MYN – Hagenius brevistylus exuvia (dorsal)

An odonate exuvia was photographed against a pure white background using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique.

This specimen is a Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus) exuvia. Dragonhunter is a member of Family Gomphidae (Clubtails).

Dragonhunter is the largest of North American clubtails; accordingly the large size and shape of a Dragonhunter exuvia is so distinctive that it’s relatively easy to identify to the species level.

Notice the large, paddle-like antennae. They remind me of ping pong paddles.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens minus the lens hood. The camera was set for both manual exposure and manual focus. That’s right, a switch on the camera body is used to set the type of focus. It’s a Fujifilm thing.

Godox X2TF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control two off-camera external flash units set for radio slave mode.

  1. Godox TT685C Thinklite Flash for Canon Cameras (manual mode), fitted with a “Vello Bounce Dome (Diffuser) for Canon 580EX II Flash,” was used to light the underside of the translucent white plastic background; the top of the flash unit was ~30 cm from the bottom of the white plastic.
  2. Godox TT685F Thinklite Flash for Fujifilm Cameras (manual mode), fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier, was used to light the subject from above.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot heal and sharpen the image.

Practical Tips for the MYN Technique

A piece of opaque white plastic that is 12″ square is used for the background/”stage.” Actually, the white plastic background appears to be translucent when back-lighted by a flash unit at a relatively close distance.

The flash unit used to light the underside of the translucent white plastic background (Group A) was set for 1/2 +0.3 power; the zoom was set for 50mm in order to spread the beam of light sufficiently to avoid a hotspot on the white plastic background. The top of the flash head was ~10 inches from the bottom of the white plastic “stage.”

Next, take a test shot using only one flash — the flash that’s used to light the underside of the white background. Look at the histogram to check for correct exposure. You should see a spike on the far right side of the histogram that indicates the background is exposed properly (255, 255, 255).

Apple Aperture | Adjustments | Histogram

One or more flash units can be used to add “fill flash” from above the background/stage, as necessary. In this case, I used one flash (Group B) set for 1/64 power.

Use the 1:1 rule-of-thumb to determine how close/far to position the flash unit from the subject. The diagonal distance across the face of a softbox should be the distance to the subject [or less] for soft wrap-around light. Actually, the distance should be as close as possible without the softbox showing in the photo frame. Greater distances will result in a contrasty look.

For example, my Lastolite softboxes are 8.5” x 8.5” square (12” diagonally) so they should be one foot (1’) or less from the subject. In this case the front diffuser panel of a single softbox was placed ~6-8″ from the face of the specimen, off-set slightly to the left of the subject (facing forward).

MYN Field Studio setup

The following photo shows a behind-the-scenes look at one configuration of my Meet Your Neighbours Field Studio setup.

Meet Your Neighbours Field Studio setup, staged at BoG Photo Studio.

The exuvia is staged on the top from a clear plastic delicatessen container. This helps to reduce/eliminate the MYN “halo effect” by raising the subject a few millimeters above the white background.

There’s a flash that’s placed on a black plastic shelf below the white background/stage. It’s an old “bed shelf” from Bed Bath & Beyond that I repurposed for the MYN Field Studio.

Everything is mounted on a Promaster Deluxe Light Stand LS-2n using the following Manfrotto articulating arms and clamps.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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