Being Small in a Large World..
In another creative fervor with the Fuji X Pro 1, I decided to attend a formal CNPA (Carolinas Nature Photography Assn.) outing yesterday at Cyprus Gardens in Moncks Corner, SC. The park is full of flowers, swamp and a nice butterfly house. I had decided to leave all of my other camera equipment at home (it seems that this is becoming the rule now with the X Pro 1!) and concentrate on macro/closeup work with the Fuji system. In truth, I spent all day with the 60mm f/2.4 macro lens. The lens can shoot in the macro mode at .5x which is 1:2. The closest focus range on this lens is a little over 10 inches. With these limitations in mind I setup on a sturdy tripod and got about the business of creating images!
This post is NOT intended as a macro or flash tutorial. I will post images that I consider are the best at macro and closeup that this camera system is capable of creating. Anyone can create this type of macro images with just a little forethought and a full understanding of the physics of exposure and how to use your camera as a tool! I intend to show you what this camera system is capable of creating with thought out setups, exposure and lighting! I am going to share with you my experiences in using the camera system with the following accessories, modes and shooting supports:
- Fuji X Pro 1, aperture priority, spot metering
- Fuji 60mm f/2.4 lens
- Fuji EF-20 flash
- EF-X20 flash
- Fuji EF-42 flash
- Surefire 6PX Pro LED flashlight
- Tripod and hand held
- 40″ remote shutter release
The Zebra Longwing caterpillar above was about 1/4 inch in length and was taken with the Fuji X Pro 1 with the 60mm f/2.4 lens on a tripod. Lighting was the Fuji EF-20 flash unit on camera but tilted down and set at -1ev. As you can see, the overall setup gave a very nice image with reasonable lighting given only 1 flash! The overall image ratio is about 1:3 which puts this squarely in the macro range. I kept the aperture set to f/9 in order to get the entire insect in sharp focus and have a little bit of detail in the background. Now, the real surprise: the focus was auto with the selected focus point being the middle of the curve on the insect! Normally, we expect to manually focus when working in macro, but I intended to test the focus capabilities of the system as well.
- TIP: I added a slight lens vingyette in post processing to darken the top and sides of the image to further accent the main subject.
Given that the flash uses two AA batteries, the re-charge time should be considered quite slow, but it was actually quite fast. I enjoyed using this flash because the tilting head enabled me to shoot past the end of the the longer 60mm lens and keep the subject in nice light with no lens shading even with the lens hood installed at the 10 inch focus distance! I did find that using the button on the back of the flash to set the EV value to be a bit tedious but since I usually set it to some negative value and leave it there it was not a very large negative!
This next image of the Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar was taken using the Fuji EF-42 flash set at -.5ev and an aperture of f/8 on the tripod. Here I intended to have more of a blurred background (remember in the macro range the DOF is very narrow and even a a mid aperture you will get a very blurry background) yet again keep the insect in sharp focus across its entire focus plain.
The EF-42 flash is a much higher power unit compared to the EF-20 and it uses four AA batteries for a faster recharge time. The controls are easier to use BUT the flash head will NOT angle down beyond the level plain. This can be overcome by pulling out the wide angle lens on the top and using it as s bounce surface to angle some light down. As you can see in the image I created the exact image I envisioned. The main subject (insect) is in perfect focus and the exposure is dead on with no blow out of the whites. The background is nicely indistinct and blurry with only slight detail thus taking nothing away from the subject! Focus was again in auto with the spot set on the top hump of the insect as it was getting ready to move forward up the branch. Again, I added a slight lens vingyette in post processing to darken the top and sides of the image to further accent the main subject. As stated, this was all pre-planned before I ever looked at the camera!
OK this image of the small red flower (sorry, I have not yet identified it yet…) was again done with the X Pro 1 with the 60mm lens and the EF-42 flash at -1 ev. The big difference here was that this was hand held. I just could not get the camera into a position on the tripod in order to capture it. Plus I was setting up to switch over to shooting butterflies on the move which you just cannot do on the tripod. The flower was about1 inch in length so the image ratio here is about 1:4 which puts this image in the closeup range. Depth of field is much better in this range so in order to have a un-defined background I set the aperture down to f/4 which gave me a sharp focus on the entire flower in its plain of focus yet blurred the background nicely.
- TIP: The flash was setup using the wide angle adapter pulled partly out in order to reflect some of the light down towards the flower.
All in all I think that this is a nicely done image considering it was hand held!
Ok, moving up further into the closeup range, I created this image of a Zebra Longwing butterfly. This was again handheld but using the EF-20 flash set level at -1ev. Focus was auto with the focus point set silghtly off center to the top in the portrait mode.
- TIP: When shooting macro/closeup, I always set the focus point for each and every shot. This gives me far greater control during the setup and composition phase of my process.
OK, almost done! This last image of a purple orchid was shot on the tripod in shadow was one of the more difficult images of the day. I had to use a 40 inch remote shutter release and hunch below the flower and tripod with a 5000 degree kelvin LED flashlight angled up into the flower. I also used the EF-X20 flash set at -1ev to give the purple of the flower even lighting and a sparkle. The EF-X20 is the easiest of all the Fuji flash units to control due to its top mounted mode dial.
The LED flashlight is a 6PX Pro Tactical light with variable output and is perfect for macro work. Its light is bright white and since you can control the power level it makes for very easy control! This light and many others can be found at www.Surefire.com but be advised, they are expensive! I keep several versions of these tactical lights on hand. They are all useful and a positive addition to a macro kit!
OK, that is it for today. But consider this last point, Macro work can be done with any lens, you do not need to have a dedicated macro lens. With the simple addition of a closeup adapter (I recommend the Canon 500D series of adapters) you can convert ANY lens to macro/closeup!