Tim is a research and freelance photographer located in the Atlanta area. He specializes in photographing sports, events, and concerts. His published work can be seen on major news outlets like Fox News, MSNBC, Wired, and National Geographic. Tim is graduate of Georgia Tech in Biology and currently photographs for research purposes. If you have questions, comments, or requests about photographic services, please contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Macro Insect Photography
The positioning of every piece of equipment is just as important as the settings used. To properly illuminate the drops of water, the 580EX is placed behind the stream of water and facing the camera. If a black background is desired, the flash is lifted out of view of the camera and a black photo board is placed behind the subject. In a dark room, the black board hides any objects inadvertently in the shot and creates an illusion of dark infinity behind the subject. While only one flash is required for drop photography, the second flash is almost essential to capture the drops and insect subject. The two heads of the MT-24EX are placed in different locations. For my setup, the A Head is aimed from the left and vertically in plane with the mosquito while the B Head is positioned adjacent to the lens on the right and aimed directly at the mosquito. The B Head is approximately 3 times closer to the subject than the A Head. Because I am forced to use the lowest power of flash to capture motion, I use the distance the flash is from the subject to change the amount of saturation of light, with closer flashes providing greater illumination. The MT-24EX and 580EX are also aimed in such a way that they do not illuminate the pins tethering the mosquito. This is partly accomplished with the use of cardboard light deflectors that direct the light away from the pins. This setup was determined by trial and error, and adjustments were made until I finally got a rig that produced the best photo.
For a backlit photo, the 580EX is moved downward and angled directly at the camera. The A Head of the MT-24EX moves to behind the stream aiming at the drops and the B Head remains in place to illuminate the subject. This setup results in a clean National Geographic insert style image, but does result in extremely soft edges around the subject. With mosquitoes, the details of the fine hairs and legs are lost due to the backlight, which I felt was unacceptable. Therefore, I modified the rig to simulate a backlit photo by bouncing a flash off a white photo board behind the subject. The background of the image is the board not the light, and the bounced flash
fills any shadows caused by the subject illuminating flash. With some minor contrast correction in post processing, the result is a cleaner, crisper backlit style photo. To see an example of a backlit style shot, see the butterfly photo in the Macro Insect gallery while the bounced style can be seen here. To hold each flash, I use two Manfrotto 196AB-3 Articulated Arms; two Manfrotto 237HD Heavy-Duty Flex Arms hold the MT-24EX heads. The arms are attached to the work bench with Manfrotto Super Clamps. The articulated and flex arms allow for easy positioning of the flash heads and are strong enough to hold the weight of each flash at awkward angles. Holding the camera is a Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod with a Manfrotto 229 3D Super-Pro Head.