An introduction to “pop-up” flash macro photography
Low cost macro shooting offering outstanding quality is easier than you think!
This program describes a process for shooting macro photographs using lighting provided by the standard "pop-up" flash found on many cameras. Using a simple home-made support bracket and a variety of close-up lenses, extension tubes, or stacked add-on lenses, anyone can produce amazing macro images having true "studio" quality lighting, for a fraction of the cost of a system utilizing multiple flashes, ring lights, or expensive factory made support brackets. The set-up described provides maximum portability for hunting down and following small insects and spiders that aren't going to sit still for photographers using cumbersome tripods.
Description of the basic concept... what’s needed.
*Lightweight camera-mountable variable-angle bracket to support simple reflectors.
*Support & reflectors must be positionable, to adjust direction & intensity of side lighting.
*Shield to protect close subjects from direct flash light, avoiding overexposure at short distances.
*Lens mounted diffuser that can be used either with bracket reflectors, or separately.
Subjects covered include:
Rigging up a lightweight macro flash bracket allowing your camera's pop-up flash to provide all the light necessary for shooting at low, moderate, or extreme magnifications using small apertures.
Simplified light modification using this system.
An easy route to “no light loss” high magnification: using front mounted close-up lenses.
Manual focus vs. auto-focus vs. pre-set focus.
The “X” factor (magnification) vs. Field Width.
Shallow depth of field... making it work for you.
Dealing with vignetting: shooting through “the hole in the doughnut”.
Image stacking... “building” depth of field.
Dealing with short working distances.
Cheap and efficient home-made macro shooting accessories.
An unbelievably simple "macro-studio" for photographing small objects, tiny spiders, and insects.
Tips for stalking Dragonflies, Grasshoppers, and Jumping Spiders.
For those folks not wishing to get “up close and personal” with insects or arthropods, tips for shooting small inanimate objects and botanical subjects.
I'm presently using several cameras, a Kodak P850 point & shoot, a Nikon D40, and a Nikon D60. The primary lenses used on the Nikons are... a vintage 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor-H (1968), a Nikon 105mm f/2.5 AI-S (1981), a Lester Dine 105mm f:2.8 macro (1984), and a 200mm f/ 4.0 Micro-Nikkor (1980). All lenses are focused at infinity! Mounted on the front of the lenses is a variety of stackable add-on lenses, plus an Iscorama anamorphic compression lens for CinemaScope macro work. I also make use of an inexpensive bellows for extremely high magnification work using 8mm and 16mm movie camera lenses reversed, microscope objectives, and other miscellaneous lenses. Shooting apertures generally range from f:11 to f:32. ISO settings generally run from 100 to 400. Focusing at infinity, especially with the 105mm and 200mm lenses, provides good working distance... very important for getting light onto the subject. No pop-up flash??? No problem!!! My D-40 pop-up flash died, so a small shoe-mounted flash unit is used, allowing full flash syncronization up to the top speed of the camera... 1/4000 sec. Photographers using this type of macro set-up can produce outstanding images that could be more difficult to achieve using conventional macro shooting methods. The program includes images made using all of the techniques described, and concludes with a pop-up flash macro demonstration. Anyone wishing to explore the world of macro photography and wanting to get top notch and very satisfying results should consider attending.
Art Vaughan has been active in photography for over 40 years. He worked for Western Electric, AT&T, Lucent Technologies, and Bell Laboratories for just over 31 years before retiring in October of 2001. Over a twenty-five year period he performed extensive work in
Photomicrography for microcircuit development engineering departments at Bell Laboratories, especially in the area of new process development and microchip / microcircuit failure mode analysis.
After joining the Merrimack Valley Camera Club (originally the Lawrence Camera Club) in 1985, he served 8 years as club president, and 16 years as print competition chairman, and has been awarded an Honorary Life Membership in that organization. He’s also a member of the Massachusetts Camera Naturalists and the Photographic Historical Society of New England. For the last ten years he’s been a Vice President and Master Member of the New England Camera Club Council, where he’s presently the NECCC Print Competition Director, and "live" commentator for the "Best of the NECCC" Traveling Print Program.
Art’s photographic experience and interests include: anamorphic (Cinema-scope) macro photography, stereo (3-D) imaging, photomicrography, fluorescence and ultraviolet microscopy, color and black & white print making, and digital restoration of antique photographs, lithographs, engravings, and etchings. He’s served throughout New England as a digital image and print competition judge and lecturer. Art’s favorite shooting locations are along the shores of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia & New Brunswick, and the upper Brazos River watershed area of north and west Texas.