Aim speedlight downward for macro

Discussion in 'Macro' started by bob_estremera, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. I have a project in mind to go to the local botanical gardens here in New York to do some semi-macro shooting with my X-T20 and 60mm 2.4. I know I'm going to need additional lighting so I can keep the ISO low and shutter speed as high as it will go. I have manual speedlights but I'm pretty sure, at least I think I'm sure, that I'll have to find a way to direct the flash from going straight forward to slightly down angle so I can put direct light on the subject. What DIY or modest modifiers have macro shooters found effective for this?

  2. SCL


    There's always the old trick of rubber banding a mens handkerchief over the flash front to soften and reduce the great in a pinch.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  3. I have been know to hold the camera in one hand, and hold my other hand out in front. side of the subject but out of frame to act as a reflector for the camera flash.
  4. 60mm is a longish lens.. are you sure you'll need to aim your speedlite down when it is set to wide?
    Why not aim it up against a bounce card?
    Ringlight flash modifiers aren't overly expensive ($32).
    If your flash is manual why not take it out of the hotshoe and aim it by hand?Some falsh brackets might permit aiming too.
  5. Thanks,
    I don’t think I’ll be able to hold the camera with one hand without risking shake so I’ll want the flash on the cam. And even though the lens might be longish, the speed light is relatively tall and shoots straight ahead. Setting it on wide angle should help. Maybe a Stofen type modifier would help too.
  6. shake is mitigated by the brevity of the effective exposure time of the flash. the hand takes no extra storage/care; it's kinda always with you.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Have been doing quite a bit of macro with on camera (built in) fill flash the last week or so - works quite well with the slightest tweak in PP - when I get the exposure adjustment right it won't even need that. D 7200 AF Micro Nikkor 105 2.8
    DSC_1047 (800x534).jpg
  8. There are some extremely inexpensive LED ring lights for sale (e.g, LINK). I bought one* just to see how it works.
    It doesn't put out a lot of light but with today's ISOs, it is enough.

    *Shiny thingie, AWK, get......
  9. Thanks for all the input.
    Wayne, I know the flash duration tends to freeze the subject. But with a limited sync speed of only 180th of a second, there could still be subject or hand movement that will be apparent in the image if I use a one handed grip on the camera. JDWvW, thanks for the link. That's a great option if it works on Fuji lenses. Sandy, funny how we miss the things right under our noses. It had not occurred to me to use the on-camera fill flash. That's the first thing I'm going to test. But I think what I'm going to use a Rogue Flashbender on the speedlight. They have a nice size that should work well for macro for only $21. Between how the Flashbender works and the tilt angles of my speedlight, I think it will be a good solution. Thanks again.
  10. None of the photographers I know who are serious about bugs use ring lights. The lighting is too flat.

    Many use either store-bought or DIY brackets to hold the end of the flash near the font of the lens, with a large diffuser on it. This combination minimizes hot spots, gives a reasonably diffused light, and has some shadows. Here is a photo of my standard rig:


    I made the bracket out of a straight flash bracket I bought for $7 and two mini-ballheads. I had to knock the cold shoe off the bracket and drill it out to attach the ball heads. The diffuser is made of a coke can (google "coke can diffuser" without the quotes) and a lot of gaffer's tape. For diffusion, you can use all sorts of things, but this version uses two sheets of baking parchment paper. I also pull down the wide-angle diffuser on the flash itself. This is heavy, and the center of gravity is uncomfortably far forward, but the monopod mostly takes care of that. I use a tilt head set to rotate up and down.

    this works well except when the position of the bug would make it nicer to have the flash on the other side.

    Here's an example taken with exactly that equipment. The lens is a 100mm macro, and I have a 36mm extension on it, which is my default for bug hunting.

    jonathan_mcgraw likes this.

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