Caterpillar piehole-equivalent

Today I experimented some more using off-camera flash.  My subject was a monarch caterpillar, and the photograph was taken on a Sony A7ii, using a Nikon 105mm macro lens on a bellows, with a Yongnuo trigger and one flash set to low power, about 20cm away.  The bellows let me focus very close indeed, while the flash meant I could use f/22.  I’ve definitely never got as close and sharp an image of this type of beastie’s mouth parts and ocelli before. But I have also rediscovered that a high f/stop makes every teeny bit of dust on the lens waaay more visible!

monarch caterpillar

Getting flash, on a small scale

One of the basic technical skills I’m trying to wrap my mind around at the moment is how to use off camera flash – old school photographers, working with expensive film, used detailed metering and complex mathematical calculations.  I’m more inclined set everything to manual and play with the dials until it starts to look plausible.    My garden is always a good place to find models, albeit often very tiny ones unwilling to sit still for long.  These were shot using an old film 105mm Nikkor lens with an extension tube that takes it to 1:1 magnification.  Using a flash meant I could set the aperture to F/11 – 15 or so, and (since I was working hand held) keep the shutter speed around 150/sec.   I held the mildly unweildly length of the camera/lens/extension in one hand, and the flash in the other, adjusting the final focus by the simple method of leaning forward or back slightly, and moving the light-holding hand to various angles.




Not yet flash with flash . . .

I’ve just started to experiment with using off camera flash for outside portraits – and I have an uneasy feeling that wrapping my brain around all the different settings is going to be as much a learning curve as switching the camera settings to manual was back when I first began to do that.   But, as always, yay for helpful friends prepared to stand around while I experiment.

Taken at noon, in light filtered by leaves being whipped around in a brisk breeze, with very erratic brightness.  Settings: 55mm f/2 iso 100 1/200, and me holding a flash (with a remote trigger on camera) as far away as I could with one hand, while balancing and focusing the camera with the other.




Katydid? No, she didn’t . . .

The perfect model for my experimental use of back lighting flash just happened to land on the back doormat.  And I am discovering that using an off-camera flash is very much like learning how to  properly use my camera on full manual was a year or so back – plenty of  “gahhh, too hard” moments.  But I assume, it’ll be great once I learn.  Eventually using it will become automatic, just like setting m’own iso and aperture is now, and the new gear and changing those settings won’t get in the way of actually making images.  I expect.

Shot using a Nikon 105mm macro lens at f5.6, iso400 1/200 using a YN560-iii speedlite at settings I didn’t note.  Probably should have.

Note to self:  One day I should leave my house and take pictures in more exotic locations, although not until my current wintery ailments are less oppressive.  Cough, hack.   Winter, garrhhhh . . .

backlit katydid