Macro Fly Photography - A Process

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chase creek
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by chase creek » Tue May 12, 2015 8:48 pm

I don't have any experience with macro filters, but yes, the more glass you introduce into a lens system, the more it degrades the image. In my opinion, like a lot of other things, you get what you pay for. I've seen lots of macro shots made with macro filters that were fantastic.

I have been playing with other lens with extension tubes, and I like the 50mm 1.8 the best. Tubes will work with most any lens, prime or zoom, except most wide angle lens. I've also been playing with reversing the lens, which gives a greater magnification by mounting the lens backwards on the camera. I bought an adapter to do this from B&H Photo for $7. Works very well, but exposes the back of the lens, which makes me a little uncomfortable.

As far as depth of field, Ruard is correct when he says he gets a greater depth of field at f8. With most lens, there is a "sweet spot", usually about 2 stops back from the minimum aperature (say f22) that gives the maximum depth of field in macro. Don't ask me why; beyond my understanding, but it's true.

Lighting seems to be a "biggie" with macro. I prefer off-camera flash to ring lighting. Ring lights are fine, but will give you a "flatter" looking image. I just use a flash with a 3 ft cord to the flash shoe on the camera. Costs a lot less than a ring flash, too.

Macro is a really interesting area to explore, always something to learn - just like tying. :( :)
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Ruard
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by Ruard » Wed May 13, 2015 6:52 am

chase creek wrote:
As far as depth of field, Ruard is correct when he says he gets a greater depth of field at f8. With most lens, there is a "sweet spot", usually about 2 stops back from the minimum aperature (say f22) that gives the maximum depth of field in macro. Don't ask me why; beyond my understanding, but it's true.
I use a compact camera the Canon power shot sx110 IS. do I understand you well that I got a better depth of field with a F of 6.3 ?

As light I use two lamps Halogen( ?) with a studio:

Image

Greeting

Ruard
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William Anderson
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Wed May 13, 2015 8:21 am

Rodger, thanks again for all the information. When I have a couple more items to play with I'd like to shoot an identical shot using as many lens variations as possible. The first pic on page 1 was shot with a 40mm macro lens and polarizing filter. Page two are same plus the 2x magnification filter.

Ruard, this is the difficulty in talking technically when so many things are relative. I have the exact same Canon power shot sx110 IS and nearly every photo you've seen until last week was taken with that camera. Such a great camera and perfect for what we're doing which is why I was so reluctant to go in a different direction. I'm certain the Canon will do things I was unable to manage, and I kept hitting my limits when tying to shoot other things, like the fly bodies and some alternate fly photo techniques. One factor as you've addressed is the highest F factor on this camera is F8. Controlling the depth of field on this type of camera is very limited. Again, some manage better than I have, but it's tough to make the comparisons between the digital compact cameras and the dslr.

I know Hans shot nearly all the shots for his site using an older compact digital and who could complain about the sharpness and high quality of those shots. He found a model that loved the macro. He was kind enough to call once and walk me through each of his settings and lighting, etc and it made a huge gain for me. I'm still unclear about the use of the technical information from a dslr to a compact digital. There's no reason why this thread shouldn't be used to explore this topic.

Thanks for posting your set up. I hope as many as care to will post or discuss there own set up or describe their camera settings or lens configuration. My set up is in flux (disassembled), but when it's a little more resolved I'll post it.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by gingerdun » Wed May 13, 2015 1:36 pm

Hi William,
So sorry to have been absent from this thread on a subject close to my heart.
Your are doing interesting experiments with your great new camera and backgrounds. Lighting has been the biggest challenge for me, and I still haven't found a fool-proof solution for achieving the white backgrounds that I like.
Your photographs seem to have a dual-role as documents for the craft, and also as works of art. Finding the balance between the two goals will be your personal style.

One test that I employed was to photograph a tiny macro subject (I used an engraved postage stamp) at each aperture opening, and then examine the results to see which f/stop resulted in the best detail. Usually it is in the smaller mid-range like f/14, f/16. The narrowest apertures give better depth of field, but at the expense of some sharpness. Each lens will be a little different, so it is good to find which aperture will be best for your tiny flies.

I definitely got the sharpest images with my cheap 50 mm prime lens with the high-end extension tubes. The more expensive tubes were necessary to synchronize with my Speedlight flashes. I use a focusing rail, with manual focus. I focus by moving the camera back and forth, not with the focus ring on the lens.

Keep it up!
Lance
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by crazy4oldcars » Wed May 13, 2015 6:11 pm

William,
I'm not certain that the polarized filter is doing anything except altering your exposure rate. As I remember it, indoor light isn't polarized, only sunlight. If you rotate the filter (it should spin in it's housing) and don't see any difference in the shadows/light values in your image, through the viewfinder, it is acting as a fixed rate neutral density filter. A neutral density (ND) filter allows taking low f/stop or long exposure shots in bright light conditions.

If you have a UV Filter, be sure it is installed on the lens. It was explained to me this way. Each receptor (pixel) on the sensor "fills up" with light to a level that represents color. The more it fills, the lighter the pixel. UV Light also fills the pixel, and can displace visible light, altering the colors the sensor captures. The filter limits the amount of UV light entering the lens.

I did some research on ring lights one time, and the consensus was mixed. It greatly reduces shadows, flattening the apparent depth of the image. For a macro shot, this probably won't be a problem. For a portrait shot of your mother, probably more so, lol.

Kirk
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 15, 2015 1:03 pm

Lance, thanks for your comments. I'll post a quick test following on depth of field. Your test on finding the sweet spot for each lens is something I will continue to think about. I was thinking more about the impression of the image in the shift from crisp to blur, assuming the sharpness of the portion in focus would be the same with focus falling away before and after. But looking for the sweet spot is something I hadn't heard of. Here's hoping the sweet spot coincides with what I like to see in terms of the blurring of parts of the image.

Kirk, thanks again. What I had hoped to achieve with the polarized filter is to take the sheen off the stones I was using before I found the slate and minimize the brightness of the lights seen in the hook and wire. It turns out after some testing that it makes little difference. Even on the stones the difference was marginal. The filter didn't seem to hurt either, but I believe you're right that it wasn't doing any favors. All the following shots and those shown in the Nemes flies thread were taken with the 40mm macro lens and a UV filter. I really appreciate you sharing this bit.
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by William Anderson » Fri May 15, 2015 1:25 pm

So a quick test of the depth of field using the 40mm lens. To further complicate the matter, I've seen, but didn't understand, why lenses have their own F rating as in those which would read 50mm F/4-5.6 on the lens. And another might read 50mm F/2.8. The latter would be more expensive, something to do with the 2.8 being a potential aperture or a capacity that is more desirable. They consider the lenses rated with a lower F stop (larger aperture) to be "faster" lenses, as they allow more light in and allow for shorter shutter speeds. I don't claim to understand it, it adds to the confusion. I just know when looking at lenses, the higher priced lenses often have a lower F rating on the lens. Not to do with the F stop selection on the camera.

Nikon D5100, 40mm F/2.8 Macro lens, UV filter all with an ISO setting of 200. (why digital cameras need to select a film speed is still a mystery. The size or speed of the sensor doesn't change like film did, I'll sort it out some other time.

F25 at 1:2
Image

F16 and 1:6
Image

F11 at 1:13
Image

best overall effect with a compositional nudge:

F16 at 1:8
Image

It's a process, but it's getting better, I think.

w
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by Mataura mayfly » Fri May 15, 2015 3:23 pm

William, extension rings are good, a set of three can give some pretty interesting combinations.
But to have some real fun, you need a bellow tube. ;)
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by DOUGSDEN » Sat May 16, 2015 6:59 pm

William,
I have been following your thread and reading with great interest. I can only conclude one thing.....with the combination of your superb tying and now your increasing skills and love of photography, this can only be epic and historic at the same time! My stars, the caliber of photographers chiming in on this thread is amazing! I love how you take on a subject and grab it and growl! The end result is superb photography and that is something all of us have been blessed to behold from your lens and the many others adding and enriching this site! It is a unique honor to be allowed to listen in on your thoughts and results and quality images! I think everyone would agree that we are watching greatness unfold before our eyes! Please keep us fed with this and the many other subjects that you take on!
A photographer wanna be,
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Re: Macro Fly Photography - A Process

Post by Old Hat » Sun May 17, 2015 11:17 pm

I missed this thread from the get go. Just now read through it. I had figured from your other photos on the site that you had upgraded your camera William. They really look nice! It has been fun to read through your experimenting and trials.

I use a Nikon D5000 with a dedicated Sigma 70mm 2:8 Macro lens. The lens is manual focus only, but I far prefer manual focus in macro photography. Except when I find myself trying to capture live "moving" insects. It makes for long photoshoots and a lot of picture taking.

To get straight to the point on a couple topics. I don't like the macro filters. I bought a set a few years ago and quickly came to the conclusion it is too much glass for the photography of flies. the detail is just not there. I haven't tried the extension tubes, but I'm am sure they would work much better. I have been looking into them for my telephoto lens as a cheaper alternative to a new lens.

If you are taking pictures inside, I would not use your polarizing filter. A UV filter would be fine and I would recommend one, if anything, for the protection it gives to your dedicated lens. I have used a polarizing filter for macro photography of flies but only when I shoot outside. It really is wonderful and there is nothing like sunlight for enhancing your photos.

Everyone is correct in stating how important it is to find your camera and lens' sweet spot. Each combination will be a little different but as Lance says it will be in that mid range. On my set up I prefer f11 to f14, but I also like to jump down to f8 to be more creative with angles and depth. I think I start loosing some of the detail when I get above f14. I think this is what you have been talking about playing with depth. I have recently started with different compositions of multiple flies within a photo instead of the "one fly" shot. It is fun. I also like to work shadows into my photos at times by adjusting the lighting angles. This may lead to darker areas on the flies but like Lance alluded to it becomes more about fine tuning your style once you know your camera and can manipulate it to get the photos you want. It becomes a little like painting and less like just taking clear quality pictures. With time and experience anyone can take a quality photo with a DSLR. The natural progression is once you know what it can do for you...what can you as a photographer do with it? How are you going to fill your canvas?

My biggest issue is consistency. I have a problem with it. I have always felt more creative inside than driven to consistency. This only became an issue for me when I started my website. I wanted the tutorials to have consistent color background and exposures. I am still struggling with that considerably as I haven't taken the time to set up a dedication photography system. I've always adjusted for what I want under different lighting sources and angles. I realize that the only way to get the consistency is to have a dedicated light and photography station.

One thing I have found for more creative fly photography fun is shooting at an f5.6 to f8 and adjusting the angle of the fly to focus on specific aspects of the fly. The parts you want to highlight. These type of photos are not the best for photos for showing the fly as a pattern, especially for beginning tiers, but seem to be fine for experienced tiers. The experienced tier can mentally fill in the unfocused areas of the fly quite well and you can lead them to the part of the fly that may interest them. This allows the photographer a little more creative leeway.

Anyway, it will be fun to watch what you come up with and see where your style leads you. Thanks for inviting us along.

Also, not to help you with your macro of flies much, but to greatly decrease your learning curve with your new camera I highly recommend a series of books by Scott Kelby titled "The Digital Photography Book" There are 3 in the series. Get all 3. They are inexpensive and straight to the point. Mine are well worn. After 5 years I still refer back to them.
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