Shield Bug (Two Photographs) and a word on Lighting
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Both of these were taken with artificial light. I’ve been asked why and how I use flash. Flash, especially at low power is very fast and can stop motion. It also lights the shadow areas of small subjects; in macro/close-up photography natural light can often be minimal. My flash and camera are set to manual exposure, with my flash at 1/8th power (the flash duration is 1/5,000 of a second). My shutter speed is set at the maximum synch speed for flash on my camera, 1/250th of a second. High speed flash (HSS) means the flash goes off more than once and defeats the purpose of the flash to stop motion. Aperture mode in flash means the camera decides on lighting and that too is very tricky. The one real control I have of the light in manual as described above, is the aperture. Given the narrow depth of field, I usually shoot in the F11 to F16 range. Some of the downsides of flash are specular highlights. Most insects and some flowers have reflective areas or fluoresce and this may need some fixing in editing (or it may be something you like). Secondly, flash can affect natural shadows which we might wish to keep. Thirdly, the light only goes so far and light fall-off can mean black backgrounds. Fourthly, undiffused flash can be a real problem. You want the softest light possible, which means your flash has to be large, diffused and close to your subject. There are a number of commercial soft boxes available for on camera and off camera flash, notably the Lastolite Ezybox Speedlite that I use. Flash can be a mystery and manuals and explanations confusing, which is why I have given the formula here that I use. From that starting point I think flash for close up photography can be easier than it sounds.