13 July 2011

Macro Flash: a Homemade Diffuser

I just bought a new macro lens (Nikon 105mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor). Stephanie and I have been having a blast using it to take spider photos. We've been getting some nice ones, like this photo of a Pelegrina aeneola jumping spider taken last weekend at Wood Camp, up Logan Canyon.

As happy as I am with this shot, I don't really like the sharp shadows under the spider. I think it looks too obvious that a flash was used (which it was, of course). So yesterday I bought some cardboard and some vellum from the USU bookstore, and tonight I made my own flash diffuser. Sure, you can buy a pre-made flash diffuser. They're not too expensive - starting around $5. But I didn't see any that were as large as I would like them to be, so I made my own.

I should have taken some pictures of the process of making the diffuser, but I just didn't think of it. So, here's a photo of the finished product:

And here's a photo of the finished product mounted on my flash.

Now, instead of having harsh shadows, I get a soft, even light - almost like shooting under an overcast sky. Compare these two shots of a key. Can you tell which shot used the diffuser and which one didn't? All the other shooting conditions were the same.

Finally, here's a photo of a Platycryptus jumping spider on the wall of our house taken with the new diffuser. Check out that natural-looking light!

Field Trip this Saturday: Cache County's High Mountains

This Saturday, 16 July 2011, join me and the Bridgerland Audubon Society as we hike around Cache County, Utah's Tony Grove Lake and towards Naomi Peak in search of the specialties of our high mountains. Target birds include Red Crossbill, American Three-toed Woodpecker (above), Clark's Nutcracker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Steller's Jay, among others. Rarities seen in this area in previous summers include Band-tailed Pigeon, Red-headed Woodpecker, and White-winged Crossbill (below). Pack a lunch and lots of water, and be prepared for a strenuous hike, but at a slow birding pace. The trip is free, but bring a few dollars to help cover the $5 parking fee. Meet at 8 a.m. in the parking lot between Caffe Ibis and the Logan Fire Station (50 East, 150 North, Logan). All skill levels are welcome. We will be back in the mid-afternoon.