On Assignment: Cicada

I almost always use light when shooting with a macro lens. In addition to adding to the quality and direction of light, it provides a smaller working aperture, with is important for scrounging some much-needed extra depth of field for close-ups.

And this little guy, who was one of about a gazillion cicadas that invaded the mid-east Atlantic area as part of the 17-year "Brood-X" cycle, was no exception.

This is a very easy thing to do, provided you have a strobe/stand setup.

I just pop the strobe onto the stand, set it to manual power (1/32 or 1/64 - really doesn't take much) and position it before shooting a test shot at the camera's highest synch speed. Use the best guess on the aperture, and then adjust by checking out the image on the back of the camera.

Once you have a good working aperture (the background will likely still be very dark) just dial down your shutter speed until the overall ambient exposure is reading 1 1/2 to 2 stops underexposed. This will create a good lighting ratio.

Once you are familiar with the process, the total time is about 30 seconds (if that) from the point that you plunk the flash down.

Next: Star Gazer


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Anonymous Douglas Urner said...

So, I gotta ask -- do cicada's move slowly? Whenever I try and shoot bugs they move . . . It takes forever to get a good shot.

May 25, 2006 12:52 AM  
Blogger Bourbonite said...

slowly? it's often a wonder that they move at ALL.

admittedly, crawling out of the subterrene just to inflate yourself until your skin splits... then sloughing off that shell, and pumping fluid into wings that are little more than limp bladders (until they dry, at least)... well, I'd be tuckered out, myself.

the idea behind the periodic 'swarms' (variously 17 years (and 7, 12, etc) with some regional generational overlap) is that these large, slow bags of protein can frolic enough in a predator-rich environment and still pass on their genetic data to future generations. it seems to have worked so far.

so... yeah, they move slowly. as a bonus, they occasionally outlive their mission and die in a lifelike pose... then they move even more slowly.

July 06, 2006 3:33 AM  
Blogger MagikTrik said...

Mr. Hobby I think this is my 3rd of 4th question today so obviously you dont have to answer all of them (or even any of them) but I guess I'm just curious about alot of things & have been reading over the whole site for about the 3rd time.
Anyway my question is: as a newspaper photojournalist how often is it that you have to shoot macro shots like this? Would it be enough to warrant buying a really good macro lens (like Canon's 180mm f/2.8L Macro) or is it infrequent enough to just use a close focusing lens or maybe a lower down the line dedicated Macro lens?

July 15, 2006 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to ask a stupid question, but..........I have the Nikon D200 with built-in flash.
I have a SB800 on a light stand. How does the built-in flash play in these setups? I have the built-in flash as my master and all others set to remote. I just don't know if this is the proper set-up...........I'm realy enjoying this site a lot.

December 17, 2006 12:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A neat trick if you don't want the on camera flash to get in the way is to buy some E6 slide film and promptly ask to have the unexposed roll processed. This is because (when processed...but unexposed and black) it works as quite a good IR filter and will block most of the light of the on camera flash, but still let through the IR so you are still able to trigger your SB800 flash or slaves.

April 07, 2007 7:01 AM  

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