Archive for the ‘Godox TT685F’ Category

Five-flash studio macro photography rig

January 4, 2019

This blog post is a follow-on to a previous post entitled Studio macro photography rig. As you can see, my four-flash rig has been updated to include a fifth flash: a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Although it isn’t shown clearly in the following quick-and-dirty photo taken with my iPad 3, both the Godox TT685C and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite are mounted on the crossbar of my Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Alloy Tripod. Look closely — the tiny subject (a Stylogomphus albistylus exuvia) is positioned in the far-left corner of the white posing platform, in front of the Lastolite flash modifier.

The Lastolite flash modifier features a two-layer system of diffusers that provides beautiful soft light: the white square you can see on the outside of the collapsible box and another white square that you can’t see, located halfway between the flash head and the front of the box.

Another addition to the rig is my new 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket. (Note: The camera body blocks your view of the L-bracket.) The L-bracket enabled me to mount the camera in portrait mode quickly and securely. Although the Manfrotto 405 Pro Digital Geared Head can be adjusted to position my camera rig in portrait mode, the heavy camera-lens-flash combo is unstable and can tip over easily.

New gear used for studio macro photography.

By the way, in case you looked at the preceding photo and wondered “What’s up with the crazy crop?” I used Photoshop to conceal some of the clutter in my kitchen. I set up my macro photo rig in the kitchen because it’s the largest uncarpeted area in my tiny apartment. Padded carpet is a poor surface for macro photography — the field of view from a tripod-mounted camera-lens-flash combo shifts noticeably (and unacceptably) as one moves around the rig.

More Tech Tips: A complete description of all of the equipment used in my studio macro photography rig is provided in a previous blog post entitled Studio macro photography rig.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Top 10 Photos of 2018

January 2, 2019

The following gallery shows 18 finalists for my “Top 10 Photos of 2018.” The photos are presented in reverse-chronological order beginning in September 2018 and ending in February 2018.

No. 1

20 SEP 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Pandora Sphinx moth

No. 2

23 AUG 2018 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Osprey (male, plus prey)

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

12 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

No. 10

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

No. 11

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

No. 12

No. 13

No. 14

No. 15

No. 16

No. 17

No. 18

Editor’s Note: The following location codes are used in some photo captions, shown above.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New odonate exuviae in 2018 (by family)

December 26, 2018

2018 is the year I got serious about macro photography of odonate exuviae. I bought lots of new photography gear and spent hours learning to use it, and spent more time refining my workflow for creating focus-stacked composite images.

I am blessed to have several mentors who have patiently taught me a lot about identification of odonate exuviae, and many friends who have kindly collected and shared specimens with me. Sincere thanks to Sue and John GregoireRichard OrrMichael PowellBob PerkinsMike BoatwrightAndy Davidson, and Joe Johnston.

Dragonflies (Order Anisoptera)

Family Aeshnidae (Darners)

Boyeria vinosa exuvia (Fawn Darner)

Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails)

Family Corduliidae (Emeralds)

Family Gomphidae (Clubtails)

Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)

Family Macromiidae (Cruisers)

Family Petaluridae (Petaltails)

Damselflies (Order Zygoptera)

Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies)

Related Resources: Odonate Exuviae.


Next post: New Life List additions in 2018 (odonates).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Stylurus sp. exuvia

November 23, 2018

Joe Johnston is an avid boater and sport fisherman who kindly agreed to be my “Eyes on the Aquia,” always on the lookout for odonate exuvia to share with me. On 18 July 2018, Joe collected an especially interesting specimen from Aquia Creek in Stafford County, Virginia USA.

Abdominal segment nine (S9) is elongated, strongly suggesting this individual is a member of the genus Stylurus (Hanging Clubtails).

Stylurus sp. | exuvia (dorsal)

Did you notice the spider carcass that photobombed my test shots of the exuvia? Look for the spider along the upper-edge of the thorax in the dorsal view; lower-edge in the ventral view.

Stylurus sp. | exuvia (ventral)

This individual might be Laura’s Clubtail (Stylurus laurae). Laura’s Clubtail is within range of Stafford County, although it is unknown to occur there. S. laurae would be a new species for the Dragonfly Society of the Americas Odonata Central species checklist for Stafford County, Virginia USA.

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, Staff Zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, the adult flight period for Laura’s Clubtail is 20 June to 26 September. The species is rare to uncommon. Its habitat is streams and rivers.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens plus 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. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing. Camera settings: focal length 80mm (120mm, 35mm equivalent); f/16; 1/500s.

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Stylurus plagiatus exuvia

November 21, 2018

A Russet-tipped Clubtail (Stylurus plagiatus) exuvia was collected by Joe and Loren Johnston on 20 June 2018 from Aquia Creek in Stafford County, Virginia USA.

Notice that abdominal segment nine (S9) is elongated, strongly suggesting this individual is a member of the genus Stylurus. The large dorsal hook of abdominal segment nine (S9) that overhangs segment 10 (S10) is a key marker for southern specimens of plagiatus.

The “working distance” for the 11mm Fujifilm extension tube/Fujinon 80mm macro lens combo, that is, the distance from the front of the lens barrel to the subject, is long enough to be able to use the lens hood.

Hotspots from external flash units, technically known as specular highlights, are more noticeable sometimes when the flash heads are closer to the subject. It appears the lens hood may have reduced that problem; more experimentation is required to be sure.

Related Resource: Stylurus plagiatus exuvia, a photo-illustrated identification guide.

The Backstory

Joe Johnston is an avid boater and sport fisherman. On 20 June 2018, Joe and his brother Loren were fishing together on Aquia Creek in Stafford County, Virginia USA.

Fish require food and shelter. Sometimes fish shelter near trees that have fallen into water, or the wooden pilings of boat docks. Joe and Loren were casting artificial fishing lures toward one of several docks that extend far into Aquia Creek, when Loren’s lure snagged on one of the pilings. When Joe moved his boat alongside the piling in order to retrieve the fishing lure, Loren noticed an odonate exuvia on the side of the piling. Joe and Loren kindly collected several exuviae, including this one, and shared them with me. Thanks, gentlemen!

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens plus 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. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing. Camera settings: focal length 80mm (120mm, 35mm equivalent); f/16; 1/500s.

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Pachydiplax longipennis exuvia

November 19, 2018

A Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) exuvia was received from Andy Davidson, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Test shots of the specimen were taken using a relatively small aperture of f/20 for greater depth of field. Each photo is a “one-off,” that is, not a composite image. Focus stacks will be created sometime in the near future, after the exuvia is rehydrated and posed for better composition.

Extremely shallow depth-of-field is a common problem in macro photography. Depth-of-field increases as aperture decreases — in other words, they are inversely related. In this case, an aperture of f/20 was insufficient for the entire subject to be acceptably in focus so it will be necessary to create some focus stacks.

Also notice the background of the second photo looks darker and bluer than the first one. That was caused by the fact that the subject was farther from the front of the lens. There are work-arounds for this lighting problem, but hey, like the title of this blog post says these are “test shots.”

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. 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. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing.

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Erythemis simplicicollis exuvia

November 16, 2018

An Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) exuvia was received from Andy Davidson, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This individual is a male, as indicated by the vestigial hamules visible on the ventral side of the exuvia, abdominal segments two and three (S2-S3).

Food for Thought

This exuvia is one of three “cast skins” from odonate nymphs that were collected in the field and reared in the laboratory as part of a research project entitled “Predator-Prey Interactions in a Changing World.” Since all three nymphs were collected from the James River rock pools, I assume they lived in essentially the same habitat. I wonder why the E. simplicollis exuvia is so much darker in color than either the P. flavescens or P. longipennis exuviae.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. 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. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing.

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Pantala flavescens exuvia

November 14, 2018

A Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) odonate exuvia was received from Andy Davidson, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia USA. Sincere thanks to Andy for sharing this beautiful specimen!

The exuvia is a “cast skin” from a nymph that was collected in the field and reared in the laboratory as part of a research project entitled “Predator-Prey Interactions in a Changing World.”

Test shots of the specimen were taken using a relatively small aperture of f/16 for greater depth of field. Each photo is a “one-off,” that is, not a composite image. Focus stacks will be created sometime in the near future, after the exuvia is rehydrated and posed for better composition.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. 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. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing. For details, see “More Tech Tips” (below).

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

More Tech Tips

Focus peaking can be activated when the camera is set for manual focus mode. Using back-button focus (AF-L button) in manual mode enables one to retain full control of the exposure triangle, focus quickly, and see what’s in focus before shooting a photograph. Fuji Back Button Focus (4:06), a YouTube video by Ashraf Jandali, provides a clear demonstration of how to use back-button focus on the Fujifilm X-T1.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash

November 12, 2018

I bought a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash from Roberts Camera recently. I placed the order around midday on Friday, 02 November 2018 and the parcel was delivered on Monday, 05 November. Impressive!

The Backstory

Godox flash photography gear, published on 09 October 2019, features my initial review of a Godox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash that I bought from B&H Photo. In short, the flash doesn’t work as advertised by both Godox and B&H Photo, and B&H has failed repeatedly to “make it right.” (More about that in a follow-up blog post.)

Given my negative experience with the TT685F flash, regular readers of my blog might be wondering “Why would you buy another Godox flash from B&H Photo?” More about the first part of that question in a minute. As I already mentioned, I DIDN’T buy the new Godox TT685C flash from B&H Photo. Read between the lines.

Testing 1, 2, 3…

I have been testing the new TT685C flash since the day after it was received. Here’s what I know so far: In a nutshell, the flash works as advertised.

The Canon-compatible version of the Godox TT685 functions in five modes: a non-wireless, stand-alone mode (TTL, Manual, and Multi); and four wireless modes (optical master/slave modes, and radio master/slave modes). The Godox TT685C can do almost everything the comparable Canon Speedlite 600EX II-RT does at a price point approximately six times less than Canon’s MSRP of $579.99.

All of that being said, there is one problem with the Godox TT685C and it’s a big problem in my opinion. More about this in a follow-up blog post.

A Canon-compatible flash that works like one made for Fujifilm

For my money, what makes the Godox TT685 product line of flashes special is they are cross-compatible. In other words, flashes made for different camera manufacturers (e.g., Canon, Nikon, Olympus/Panasonic, and Sony) can work together.

The following photo shows the LCD of my new Godox TT685C flash. The flash is set for radio slave mode (Channel 1, Group A). Notice the word “FUJI” in the lower-left corner of the display that indicates the Canon-compatible flash is working like a Fujifilm-compatible flash.

In this case, the flash was controlled by a Godox XProF radio flash trigger mounted on the hotshoe of my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. A Godox TT685F external flash, fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier, was located off-camera; the TT685F was used to light the photo, shown below. Also notice the icon that indicates the flash is functioning in HSS mode; the HSS icon is located below 24mm (manual zoom) and the audio speaker icon (indicating sound is on).

Godox TT685C external flash LCD panel display (Slave mode).

Results from hands-on testing (so far, so good)

  • Off-camera radio slave mode works, including TTL and HSS, when the Godox TT685C is controlled by a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for radio master.
  • Either Godox XProF or TT685F mounted on Fujifilm X-T1 hotshoe: Camera-mounted flash is Channel M; off-camera TT-685C (set for radio slave) is Channel A. Works as expected, including TTL and HSS.
  • Godox TT685C mounted on Fujifilm X-T1 hotshoe: Flash fires, Manual mode only (TTL, HSS don’t work); when the flash is set for optical master (in Manual mode), it can trigger an off-camera Nissan i40 external flash unit (set for SF Mode) confirming that optical master does in fact work.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Precious cargo

November 5, 2018

Odonates are aquatic insects. They spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

Careful and/or lucky observers will notice exuviae (sing. exuvia), also known as either “cast skins” or “shed skins,” left behind when odonate larvae emerge. Exuviae are fragile little works of natural art that are challenging at best to ship from one location to another.

The preceding photo shows a small plastic vial containing three odonate exuviae, received from Andy Davidson. All three exuviae are members of Family Libellulidae (Skimmers). From left-to-right, the following specimens can be seen inside the vial: Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens); Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis); Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).

Andy packed the exuviae carefully inside a centrifuge tube with a screw on/off cap; pieces of crumpled bubble wrap were used to separate the specimens inside the tube. A pair of tweezers was used to remove the bubble wrap. All three exuviae appear to be in perfect condition.

Editor’s Notes

Andy Davidson is a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia USA. Andy works with Dr. James Vonesh, his faculty advisor, and a team of researchers studying the ecology of James River rock pools. Andy’s research project is entitled “Predator-Prey Interactions in a Changing World.”

Sincere thanks to Andy for kindly sharing several exuviae saved from laboratory-reared odonate nymphs — I’m looking forward to creating new annotated identification guides for the specimens!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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