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Macro Photography Tips (criticism welcome)

camera macro camponotus photography

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10 replies to this topic

#1 Offline AntsUtah - Posted September 4 2021 - 3:25 PM

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I recently tried using a Digital SLR camera to photograph ants, specifically Camponotus. I held a 35-55 mm focal length lens backwards up to the camera (a cannon EOS Rebel xs), as I don't have anything to attach the reversed lens to. Supposedly this helps the image be more zoomed in then it otherwise would be with a normally attached lens. 
I would really like to know any tips or criticism you have for the images. In the future I would love to use the Cannon camera instead of my iPhone for my journal and other macro pictures. I know some the images have a lot of glare, I did not use a flash, but the acrylic is just like that. Any suggestions on getting rid of the glare?
 
 
Here's a few examples of what I tried today (featuring Camponotus cf. vicinus and an unknown Camponotus sp., with the glare)
 
 

Attached Files


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#2 Offline Skwiggledork - Posted September 4 2021 - 5:12 PM

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Play around with angles taking the photo to see if you can get rid of the glare.

More light allows for a narrower aperture(larger number) which gets more in focus.

You can get a reversal ring mount to hold the lens on backwards making it a lot easier for you and cheaper than a dedicated macro lens.

 

Are you shooting in manual mode? If you're not ready/comfortable going full manual, aperture priority mode is a great step, since that changes how much is in focus.

Shoot in the .raw format rather than jpeg. It saves more data, so there are more options for editing the photos. I'm not good at editing, but if it's something you might be interested in later keeping the raw photos can allow you to go back and make them better later.

and as with everything practice makes perfect. Keep trying and you'll get better.


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Current Journals:
Camponotus chromaiodes/pennsylvanicus- https://www.formicul...tus-sp-journal/

 

Myrmicinae spp. - https://www.formicul...icinae-journal/

Pinned ant collection - https://www.formicul...ks-pinned-ants/


#3 Offline kmoore79 - Posted September 4 2021 - 5:15 PM

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I love the photos! There is a bit of shake to the photos, but all in all, the look pretty darn good, if you are just starting out. I would photo them in a softer light and does the camera not offer a "macro" selection? I take a lot of macro photos of insects and post them on my instagram and I only use my galaxy s6. Keep up the good work and keep posting photos so I can see them. =)


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#4 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 5 2021 - 4:05 AM

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CatsandAnts has a great tutorial on this topic.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#5 Offline futurebird - Posted September 5 2021 - 5:37 AM

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Some of your photos are really good. I love the 3rd and 4th ones... and the one where the ant is biting. The glare is a constant issue. I address it by moving the light source around and avoiding using a flash.
I also find that if you can put the light inside of the enclosure it helps. Can you put a pin light in one of the exits, for example.





I've been struggling to learn macro photography for ants, myself. Here is what I have learned so far:
 

  1. LIGHT LIGHT LIGHT you need the brightest lights you can find. I recommend VIJIM panel lights. Since we are often shooting through glass it's easier to use a light, not a flash to avoid reflections. The light should be bright but diffused, you can do this by putting a white chiffon cover on your lights. In order to get better "depth of field" (having more of the photo in focus at the same time) you need to reduce the aperture or "f stop" This makes the photo darker but lets you get more in focus. Also, there is the issue of shutter speed. If the ants are moving you'll want it to be faster, and faster shutter speeds mean less blur BUT I tend to opt for very long exposures (1/400 or so) since that lets in more light and lets me decrease the aperture even more. 
  2. Use a tripod. It's not always easy, but it makes a big difference. If your ant is still you can use "focus merge" or "focus stacking" to get better depth of field. 
  3. Video will sometimes look better than still photos since you have multiple images to convey the scene. 
  4. It's worth it to get a "full frame" camera as it will be more sensitive and let you capture more.
  5. It's worth it to spend about $400 on a manuel "ultra macro" lense. This is an expensive hobby, but getting a good lens makes a big difference. 
  6. Sunlight is the best light. Just be careful that you don't harm the ants. I take my ants outside AND use a light and that gives the best results. 
  7. Clean the glass. Specks and dirt or even water on the glass of your formicarium makes it hard to get a good focused image. 

 
 
Lastly I'm going to follow this thread as I need all the help I can get with this too! Here are a few of my best photos ... but I want to do more. All of these photos used a tripod and lots of lights. In each session I took about 100 photos and only one or two would be like this.

 

And I still want to do better so I'm hoping to find some tips and tricks...
 
 NyuS8a9.jpg

DiHlmsh.jpg
If anyone has suggestions to make these better I'd love that...

n3epYZA.jpg

S913ONV.jpg
 
 
(Also antdrew can you link the tutorial you mentioned?)


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Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#6 Offline futurebird - Posted September 5 2021 - 6:02 AM

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Looking at your images again some of your issues can be solved by adjusting the levels and using something like photoshop or affinity to get more out of your images. I tried to improve a few using an image editor.

xrRGmjn.jpg
(just changed the levels.)

CL91bhH.jpg
(multilayer color correction)

n5BtkNV.jpg
(adjusted levels)

1DMbjUP.jpg
(adjusted levels and decreased black point on the blue channel)
  • Antkeeper01, AntsUtah and kmoore79 like this

Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#7 Offline ANTdrew - Posted September 5 2021 - 6:17 AM

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All you need is right here:
https://www.formicul...s/?fromsearch=1
  • futurebird likes this

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25  

Keep ordinary ants in extraordinary ways.


#8 Offline AntsUtah - Posted September 5 2021 - 3:39 PM

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All you need is right here:
https://www.formicul...s/?fromsearch=1

 

What a great guide, this should totally be pinned.
 
I'm going to buy a reversal ring, so I won't need to hold the lens up to the camera, hopefully eliminating the vibrations of my hand. After making a DIY Light diffuser and Light box (Check out the thread above), I tested the setup by shooting T. immigrans workers. Settings used:
  • Manual focusing with a 18-55 mm lens
  • Aperture of f22
  • High flash exposure
  • 1/200 shutter speed
 
I did not use a tripod or a photo editor, hopefully next time. Does anyone know of any free download image editors?
 
About half of the images were noticeably darker (see below), even though I kept everything else the same. Does anyone know what caused these darkened images?
 
 
The DIY setup:
 
Attached File  IMG-2618.jpg   156.55KB   1 downloads
 
 
The darkened images:

 

Attached File  IMG_6036.JPG   73.73KB   1 downloads

 

Attached File  IMG_6048.JPG   76.15KB   1 downloads

 

Attached File  IMG_6034.JPG   74.17KB   1 downloads

 

 

These images would have been really cool if they had not been so bright:

 

Attached File  IMG_6080.JPG   52.59KB   1 downloads

 

Attached File  IMG_6046.JPG   49.28KB   1 downloads

Attached Files


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Leave the road, take the trails. —Pythagoras

 

My DIY Formicariums

My Multi-Species Journal


#9 Offline futurebird - Posted September 5 2021 - 4:06 PM

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I seems like you having issue with either aperture or exposure time. 

 

It helped me to set up an easy shot of just a pack of cards or a flower and try each setting until I knew how to make the image darker or lighter. 

 

You are getting great depth of field in the last image, but maybe increase the exposure time to make it brighter. 

 

OR. just fix it in post. 


  • AntsUtah and m99 like this

Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#10 Offline futurebird - Posted September 5 2021 - 4:28 PM

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I just wanted to add: It helps to make the sides of your light box white too, so that more light is reflected on to the subject. 

 

Also, seriously, try using sunlight. It's the brightest light you can get... even indirect sunlight is excellent. 


Starting this July I'm posting videos of my ants every week on youTube.

I like to make relaxing videos that capture the joy of watching ants.

If that sounds like your kind of thing... follow me >here<


#11 Online Kaelwizard - Posted September 6 2021 - 5:26 PM

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I have also been experimenting with macro photography. I only have the "macro" lens my camera (a Canon EOS Rebel T6) comes with. The reason I put it in quotes is because it doesn't seem like a very good one, but my lack of skill also contributes to that (internal cry). I've been testing different settings based on CatsnAnts' guide, but so far it seems the auto mode gets better shots than my manual settings (another internal cry). Attached File  IMG_1298.JPG   186.37KB   0 downloads

This was taken on macro mode with autofocus (I have extremely unsteady hands, so I'm beginning to think autofocus is better for me despite not being recommended for macro photography). 

Attached File  IMG_1306.JPG   608.28KB   0 downloadsAttached File  IMG_1305.JPG   512.65KB   0 downloads

This is from today experimenting with aperture settings on manual mode after reading Cat's guide. As you can probably tell I have absolutely no idea what I am doing right now.


Edited by Kaelwizard, September 6 2021 - 5:28 PM.

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