Posts Tagged ‘studio photography’

What is it?

February 18, 2018

It’s time for another exciting edition of “What is it?” Well, what is shown in the following photograph?

What is shown in this photograph?

If you were thinking “empty containers of Philadelphia cream cheese spread,” then you’re only half right.

These small plastic tubs can be repurposed as storage containers for odonate exuviae, such as the Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) exuvia shown below. (Oops, I just noticed it’s time to update the label on the container!)

Storage container for a Sable Clubtail dragonfly (exuvia).

The containers are ideal in many ways. They’re not too big and not too small. The tubs can be “nested” so they don’t take up much space when you’re in the field. For long-term storage, the closed containers can be stacked neatly inside a larger box such as a Rubbermaid Keeper. And the tubs can be used to soak specimens in soapy water in order to clean- and/or re-pose exuviae when they’re pliable.

Finally, think about all the tasty toasted bagels and cream cheese that you get to eat in order to build a collection of specimen containers — that’s what I call a win-win situation!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


Have you ever wondered…?

January 9, 2018

Have you ever wondered…

The preceding photo shows the “focal plane mark” on my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

The same mark appears on my Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR, as shown on p. 16 of the “Instruction Manual.”

Minimum focusing distance versus working distance

The “minimum focusing distance” is the distance from the subject to the focal plane. The “working distance” is the distance from the front of the lens to the subject.

For example, the minimum focusing distance for the Fujinon XF80mm macro lens (shown above) is 246 mm (24.6 cm). The working distance is 98 mm (9.8 cm).

Magnification (or magnification ratio)

True macro lenses have a magnification ratio of at least 1:1, meaning the size of the subject is the same size on the focal plane (digital sensor).

For example, the digital sensor for the Fujifilm X-T1 is 23.6 mm wide by 15.6 mm high. At a magnification ratio of 1:1, a subject that is 15 mm (1.5 cm) long will be 15 mm (1.5 cm) wide on the digital sensor; expressed another way, the subject will fill ~64% of the frame width.

For a prime macro lens, maximum magnification of 1:1 is possible only at the minimum focusing distance; magnification is necessarily lower at longer focusing distances.

Adding an extension tube

Adding a Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube reduces the working distance to 89 mm (8.9 cm). It’s interesting to note the minimum focusing distance of 249 mm (24.9 cm) is essentially the same, with or without the extension tube.

The net effect of adding an extension tube is the magnification ratio is increased to a value greater than 1:1, say 1.2:1, so the subject appears slightly larger on the focal plane.

Related Resource: Adding an 11mm extension tube, a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More light diffusion

January 7, 2018

A toy dinosaur was photographed using a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite mounted on a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens (set for manual focus), Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tube, and Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR camera (set for manual exposure). Snap-on plastic light diffusers were mounted on both flash heads.

The first photo shows a wider view of the small plastic toy.

Default light diffusion on both flash heads (snap-on plastic diffusers).

The next photo shows a closer view of the same toy. Specular highlights are more noticeable when the flash heads are closer to the subject.

Default light diffusion on both flash heads (snap-on plastic diffusers).

More light diffusion was added by mounting four layers of translucent white plastic foam on the right flash head (facing forward). Notice the specular highlights are less glaring on the right side of the last photo than on the left.

More light diffusion added to right flash head (facing forward).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Toys are for testing

January 5, 2018

The first photo shows a laid-back toy monkey, photographed using a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite mounted on a Fujinon XF80mm macro lensFujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

The Fujinon macro lens is tack sharp. Hotspots from the Canon macro twin lite, technically known as specular highlights, are visible in two regions of the monkey’s face. Although snap-on plastic light diffusers were used with both flash units, additional diffusion seems to be necessary.

The last two photos were taken using the same external macro flash unit mounted on a Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for 1x) and a Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR.

The preceding photo shows a rubber duck, SWAG from the Sleep Inn in Staunton, Virginia.

The following photo shows Totodile, a Pokemon character. Depth of field is noticeably very shallow. The focus point is the eye of the toy.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it?

December 26, 2017

Well, what is it? It’s obviously a dragonfly. The real question is what is shown in the following photograph?

If you think you know what it is, then please leave a comment. The answer will be provided in a follow-up comment.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2017

“Crystal,” the crystal dragonfly Christmas tree ornament, wishes you Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Now it’s time for Crystal to fly back to her perch on a nearby pine tree.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Macro flash for Fujinon 80mm macro lens

December 22, 2017

The following photograph shows a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite mounted on a Fujinon XF80mm macro lensFujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

Two adapter rings are used for mounting the macro flash unit on the macro lens: a Sensei PRO 62-67mm step-up ring (upper-left); and Canon Macrolite Adapter 67C (lower-right).

The filter size for the Fujinon 80mm macro lens is 62mm. A 62-67mm step-up ring is used to connect the macro lens with the Canon Macrolite Adapter 67C, so named because it works with “most 67mm filter size lenses.” In this case, it works perfectly with the Fujinon 80mm macro lens.

Like every other Canon external flash that I own, the new macro flash is compatible with my Fuijifilm X-T1 digital camera. TTL is incompatible, so it’s manual mode flash only with the X-T1. That’s not a problem since I prefer manual exposure for macro photography. Although high-speed sync is supported by the Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite, it’s incompatible with the Fujifilm X-T1.

Related Resources

The filter size for the Fujinon XF55-200mm lens is 62mm. Therefore the same combination of adapter rings described above can be used to mount the Canon macro flash on the 55-200mm lens. The lens, in combination with one or more extension tubes, can be used for macro photography. The most magnification results at 200mm; the least magnification at 55mm.

The Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C can be used to mount the Canon macro flash on the Fujinon XF18-55mm “kit” lens (58mm filter size). The Macrolite Adapter 58C cannot be seen in the following photo, but it’s there. This lens, in combination with one or more extension tubes, can be used for macro photography although in my experience the 55-200mm lens is a better choice for that purpose.

Canon MT-26EX-RT adapter mounted on Fujinon XF 18-55mm lens.

The front of the Canon MT-26EX-RT adapter has a filter size of 58mm. The next photo shows a Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter mounted on the MT-26EX-RT adapter using two adapter rings: a Sensei 58-52mm step-down ring; and a Sensei 52-43mm step-down ring. The same combination of adapter rings can be used to mount the Raynox close-up filter on any lens to which the MT-26EX-RT adapter is mounted.

Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter and Canon MT-26EX-RT adapter.

Most of the time I carry the Raynox close-up filter connected to the Sensei 52-43mm step-down ring because it fits a couple of lenses that I own with a 52mm filter size, such as the fixed lens on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera (my go-to camera kit for photowalking).

MT-24EX versus MT-26EX-RT

The Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite is the successor to the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX. The MT-24EX supports E-TTL with Canon DSLRs; it doesn’t support high-speed sync. The MT-24EX is $160 less expensive than the newer MT-26EX-RT (MSRP $829.99 versus $989.99). Both models are compatible with the Canon Macrolite Adapter 67C and Canon Macrolite Adapter 58C.

As the owner a Canon DSLR, I could rationalize the higher cost for the newer model because I like to shoot Shutter Priority using shutter speeds faster than the default sync speed of my camera. If you need a macro flash for Fujifilm digital cameras only, then you may want to consider buying the less expensive model.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


December 20, 2017

Here’s a light-modifier for external flash units like the Fujifilm EF-X500, shown below. It’s simple, and works surprisingly well.

Simple light-modifier mounted on a Fujifilm EF-X500 external flash.

Mount a translucent white plastic foam bag on the flash head, secure it using a rubber band, and voila! In this case, I repurposed a foam bag that came with my Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter.

Thanks to Alan Pezzulich for sharing the idea for this clever light-modifier with me during a walk-and-talk about some of his techniques for field macro photography.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Gear talk

December 18, 2017

The following photograph shows my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and new Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. The latter will be the subject of another blog post after I have an opportunity to use the lens for more than a few test shots. For now let me just share my first impression: It’s the sharpest lens I own, and as an owner of several Canon “L” series lenses, that’s saying a lot!

This post is a quick review of the Neewer “L” bracket and Desmond DAC-X1 adaptor.

Neewer “L” bracket and Desmond DAC-X1 adapter.

The primary advantage of using an “L” bracket is to be able to switch from landscape view to portrait view quickly. Many cameras, if not most, feature a tripod mounting screw that is offset from the line of sight along the barrel of the lens. That problem is solved by using an “L” bracket. And many tripod mounting plates block access to one or more camera “doors” such as the battery compartment, memory card slots, and in/out ports for USB, HDMI, etc.

The Neewer Metal Quick Shoe Plate L-Plate Bracket Hand Grip for Fuji X-T1, as its name suggests, is custom made for my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. It’s lightweight, fits perfectly, and facilitates access to all of the camera compartments. The mounting screw can be tightened using a metal coin. (I prefer using a nickel, since it’s about the right thickness and has a smooth edge that won’t scratch your gear.)

Many “L” brackets, including the Neewer bracket, feature an Arca-Swiss style tripod mount. Since most of my tripod heads use the Manfrotto RC2 system of quick release tripod plates, I needed to find a solution that would enable me to mount an Arca-Swiss tripod plate on my RC2 plates.

After a little research on the Internet (Google is your friend), I decided to buy the Desmond DAC-X1 Skeleton Clamp. The DAC-X1 is shown in the lower-right corner of the featured photo. The DAC-X1 is mounted on a Manfrotto RC2 quick release tripod plate. It’s well-designed, lightweight, and works as advertised.

Best of all, both products are relatively inexpensive. I ordered both items from Amazon for $19.95 each, with free shipping and handling. You could pay a lot more than $40 total for similar products, but I don’t know why you would. I can’t imagine the “L” brackets made by other manufacturers are engineered so much better than the Neewer bracket that I could rationalize spending hundreds of dollars more. After admittedly limited testing, I highly recommend both products.


Thanks to several members of the Facebook Fujilove Readers Group, especially Thomas Stu, for sharing their expert advice regarding “L” brackets for the Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. It’s easy to find “L” brackets for the X-T2, the successor to the X-T1, but I couldn’t find a bracket made specifically for my X-T1. Problem solved quickly thanks to the kindness of strangers!

Editor’s Notes

Gear talk” is a new “Tag” that I began using relatively recently. I’m not sure whether gear talk should be a “Category.” Reader feedback is welcome.

Anyway, this is the kind of blog post I had in mind when I created the new tag. It is intended for posts that are focused more on photography gear than the subjects I like to photograph. Good gear makes it easier to shoot good photographs.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

BlackRapid Duo makeover

July 29, 2017

Years ago, I used to photowalk the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park frequently. I knew almost all of the “regular” visitors by sight if not by name. I noticed a man who wore a camera strap designed for two cameras. One day I introduced myself to Ilya Treger and we talked about his two-camera rig. Soon afterward, I ordered a “BlackRapid RS DR-1 Double Strap” from B&H Photo.

After limited field-testing in early 2015, I never used the strap again until recently. BlackRapid camera straps connect to a tripod socket, either on the body of your camera or “foot” of a lens. I knew that when I bought the Double Strap but didn’t realize how annoying it can be to switch a camera from the strap to either a monopod or tripod and vice-versa.

That was then and this is now. I discovered BlackRapid makes an accessory called “FastenR Tripod (FR-T1)” that enables one to connect a Manfrotto 200PL-14 Plate directly to the camera strap. Now that’s what I call a game-changer!

Parts and pieces

The first annotated photograph shows my Sunpak 6700M aluminum monopod plus a Vanguard SBH-100 Ball Head. Three plates are displayed on a microfiber cloth (clockwise from the upper-left): Vanguard QS-39 Quick Release PlateManfrotto 323 RC2 System Quick Release Adapter with 200PL-14 Plate; and Manfrotto 200PL-14 Plate with BlackRapid FastenR Tripod (FR-T1) installed.

Sunpak monopod plus Vanguard ball head and Manfrotto adapter.

The last annotated photo shows ball heads and plates manufactured by Manfrotto and Vanguard. I prefer to use the Vanguard ball head with my monopod since it is smaller and lighter than the Manfrotto ball head.

Ball heads and plates manufactured by Manfrotto and Vanguard.

Some assembly required

The preceding photograph shows a Manfrotto 323 RC2 System Quick Release Adapter that is mounted on a Vanguard QS-39 Quick Release Plate; that assembly is used with a Vanguard SBH-100 Ball Head. A Manfrotto 200PL-14 Plate, with a BlackRapid FastenR (FR-T1) installed, can be connected to the Vanguard ball head equipped with a Manfrotto adapter. The same modified Manfrotto plate works with my Manfrotto 054 Magnesium Ball Head without using the adapter.

Related Resources

Editor’s Note

Product photography isn’t as easy as one might think, as you can tell by my less-than-professional looking photos featured in this post! Although I have equipment on-hand for lighting studio shots properly, in this case I thought quick-and-dirty would be good enough to convey my point.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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