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Old May 27th, 2007, 11:38 PM   #1
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On-board lights for Nature Macro Work

Hi everyone,

Im currently using a XL-H1 with the Canon 180 macro lens for nature macro stuff. Due to the high mag rates which require a lot of DOF, I am looking at portable lights that can be powered by either Sony or Canon batteries for fill-in. Usage will be pretty much outdoors and I would like to be able to add diffusion to soften the light.

I was looking at the Litepanels and the SWIT led lights but do not have much idea whether they are any use in bright outdoor sun. My subjects mainly range from dragonflies to larger reptiles at a distance of 0.5m to 3m. I would prefer lights that do not emit heat as the subjects may not be at ease with the much warmer tungsten lights.

Thus my criteria for this light will be:

1) Portable (I will be mounting them on a flash bracket that has a 1/4 inch screw for modelling effect).

2) Uses Canon or Sony batteries.

3) Enough power for fill-in at a distance of 3m.

4) Does not emit heat (guess that rules out tungsten lights).

5) Having a built-in dimmer will be fantastic.

I thank everyone for any advice in advance.


Yeo Wee Han is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 28th, 2007, 03:42 AM   #2
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Light management might be the key here instead of lights.

I know you're thinking about adding to your foreground with powered lights, but what do you think about reflectors?

You cannot easily defeat the sun, you can easily use it to your advantage.

If you're interested in small model things like insects, well, you'll have to capture the bugs, and then control the sun in the background. In my limited history with plants and tiny objects, the background is always hot or you're framing with no depth making an uninteresting background. Adding lights does not look good on tiny objects.

Don't forget a high shutter in your camera, it will look great, and keep the sun's pretty colors in the natural world.

Think about gobos, background mesh, flagging, reflectors, or something that could manage the sun, instead of trying to beat the sun with portable lights. Reflectors are cheap, light, come in many styles, do really good, and can be stuck up in trees. They're easier to carry than lights, and come in absolutely huge sizes that fold out. They make natural photography look great.

There really are no options below a 2k light for playing in the sunshine. Reflectors, with good practice, make great images. They shoot bikini models with reflectors on the beach for magazines. People set high shutter speeds for those shots.
Alex Lucas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 29th, 2007, 06:48 AM   #3
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Hi Alex,

Thank you for your suggestions. They are however extremely impractical to work with. Capturing subjects is one thing that I (as a naturephotographer) will never try to do. It is in fact almost impossible to capture say a housefly and release it with the mindset that it will perch where you will want it to be. There are of course methods to do so but I will not reveal them here.

Why will the background be always hot when you shoot plants and animals? These 2 links of dragonflies that I shot last year should illustrate my point:



I should have added that the artificial light used is not always for backlighting situations. It is very much also for situations where the subject needs a little fill-in (think of human subjects where they are under the shade). It needs that fill-in to bring it out from the background and to improve both the saturation and contrast levels.

Using gobos and flags will be impossible with subjects this small (we are talking about the size of your smallest finger). Barndoors on a onboard light will work well though. Reflectors will really work well only where there is a source of light opposite it.

Thanks once again for your suggestions.

Any other replies, basically I would like to know if the led lights have enough power to have any effect on a subject outdoors.



Last edited by Yeo Wee Han; May 29th, 2007 at 07:30 AM.
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