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Saturday, May 21, 2011

270EX for Macro - improved version.

As mentioned in my previous post on using a single 270EX for macro, there were two issues that needed to be addressed. The two issues were:

1. shadow on the lower part of the subject
2. very dim catch light in subject's eyes.

In my opinion, these two issues were caused by the fact that the 270EX was too far out and as a result, the light would come down from a higher angle.

In this post, I will show you the solution. You will not believe how simple it is. I don't even need a ballhead anymore!

This animated gif will tell you everything you need to know!
270ex for macro upside down

New vs old method:

Left: 270EX upside down/belly up        Right: 270EX in normal position (upside up?:D)
270EX upside down vs old method
The 270EX was on an FMMB (Front Mounted Macro Bracket) mounted onto the front of the lens. This is extremely convenient for lenses with no IF (Internal Focus). The bracket and speedlight will move along when you zoom in/change magnification. (Edit: i still love my MT24 though and use this 270EX on FMMB as backup only)

If you are not sure how to make an FMMB, here are your alternatives:

1. Lens hood based flash holder.
2. Mount Ring / Tripod collar


I was playing with my 270EX, extending the head out, tilting it at different angles when the idea struck me - turn the 270EX upside down (belly up)!

As can be seen in the gif animation, at its lowest flash head position, it can handle the MPE65's working distance at 5X (1.6 inches). With this improved setup, now I can just tilt the 270EX's flash head to take care of different working distances/magnifications of the MPE65! Sweet! Now, if only the 270EX comes with focusing light as well like the MT24EX does! But you can't have the cake and eat it too though.

The MPE65's working distances at different magnification are as below:

1X - 4 inches; 2X - 2.5 inches, 3X - 2 inches; 4X - 1.7 inches; 5X - 1.6 inches

Sample images taken with this new setup. I used the same concave light tent diffuser that I use for the MT24EX.

270ex upside down on FMMB and MPE65 R0011092 copy

Blue tiger beetle (Neocollyris formasana?) with red socks.
blue tiger beetle with red socks Neocollyris formasana IMG_2892 copy

Grey ant,  Diacamma sp.
Diacamma sp. grey ant IMG_2946 copy

A female Bathippus sp.(?) jumping spider
female Bathippus sp. jumping spider IMG_2978 copy

A tiger beetle with an ant's head
tiger beetle with phoretic mite IMG_3010 copy


Check out this post for more macro rigs.

Monday, May 16, 2011

270EX for macro

By now, I am sure you are aware that many of my macro friends use single 270EX as their light source for macro. Just check out this post in case you missed that. It's been proven without any doubt that a single 270EX is just as good as twin flash.

Two of the easiest and most light weight ways of holding the 270EX in place are:

1. an FMMB (front mounted macro bracket).  More info about the FMMB here.

FMMB is great for lenses without IF (internal focus) and/or lenses without tripod collar/mount ring. Example: Tamron SP90, MPE65 (both SP90 and MPE65 extends out considerably) , and Nikon 105mm (no tripod collar?)

270EX on the FMMB, MPE65 and 40D. (Edit: this is the old method. New and improved method is here)
270ex on FMMB, MPE65 macro rig RIMG0985 copy
Yellow arrow shows that the oce3 cable is preventing the 270ex to be pointed any lower.

The angle between the two green arrows are more than 45 degrees, so the lighting is more like top lighting. A comparison to the MT24EX can be seen below, after a few sample shots.

Sample shots:

I used the same concave diffuser like this. More about that concave diffuser here.
concave diffuser RIMG0934 copy

Jumping spider. Noticeably much much dimmer catch lights in the jumper's eyes. I personally prefer it to be slightly stronger. I am guessing this is due to the higher light angle.
270ex on fmmb sample shot jumping spider IMG_1713 copy

Fly. Heavy shadow on the lower part of the fly. I am not too concerned about shadow below the subject, I am more concerned about shadow on the lower part of the subject. Again, i am sure this is due to the higher light angle.
270ex on fmmb sample shot, fly IMG_1739 copy

hover fly
270ex on fmmb sample shot hover fly IMG_1723 copy

270EX on FMMB versus MT24EX
270ex on FMMB vs mt24
Bigger image here.

The 270EX is just too far out and shines down from a higher angle, whereas the MT24EX flash heads are just on top of the front of the lens/filter, with lower angle too. (Compare the angles between the green lines). These  explain why we get dim catch lights on subject's eyes and the shadow on lower part of subject. I think I found the solution already and I will share it in my next posting.

Note: the shadow and dim catch light issues are more prominent in the MPE65's higher magnification range i.e 2x and above. At 1X, with a working distance of 4 inches (front of lens to subject), it should be okay.

(Edit: check out the new and improved method that solves the shadow and dim catch light problem)

For normal 1:1 macro lenses, this setup should still work well.

 2) Mount Ring/Tripod Collar

Almost no DIY required compared to the FMMB, but you will need to add in one or more extension tube(s) or teleconverter in order to be able to rotate the tripod collar/mount ring 180 degrees.

tripod collar or mount ring RIMG0125 copy

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another giraffe weevils!

Another type of giraffe weevils / leaf rolling weevils spotted. Very similar to the Cycnotrachelus sp. that I have often seen and photographed, but instead of on the Bridelia sp host plant, these were found of a different type of host plant, with relatively smaller leaves. No ID on the plant yet.

Giraffe weevil, male, body length approximately 9mm including the neck, and 5.6mm excluding the neck.

IDed as Leptapoderus (Soendapoderus) semirufus (Faust, 1883). Thanks to Andrei from The leaf-rolling weevils (Coleoptera:  Rhynchitidae, Attelabidae) of the world fauna
long necked beetle/leaf rolling beetle IMG_1404 copy
ID credit:

A male Paracycnotrachelus sp. giraffe weevil was found on similar host plant just a few feet apart. Body length approximately 10mm including the neck, and 6mm excluding the neck. This same species of leaf rolling weevils have been found on Bridelia sp plant as well.
male giraffe weevil with long neck IMG_9603 copy
Male giraffe weevil image courtesy of Jasrul.

The host plant, no ID yet.
giraffe weevil host plant RIMG0635 copy

leaf rolling beetle host plant RIMG0636 copy

leaf rolling weevil host plant with nitidi RIMG0641 copy

The nitidi (mini popiah)
giraffe weevil nest/nitidi IMG_1422 copy

A closer look at the leaf
host plant leaf giraffe weevils IMG_1423 copy

Other types of giraffe weevils/leaf rolling beetles I have documented:

Paracycnotrachelus sp. on Bridelia sp. host plant

Spiny giraffe weevils

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ant Mimicry - mimics vs models

Ant Mimicry: (from Wikipedia):

Ant mimicry is mimicry of ants by other organisms. Ants are abundant all over the world, and insect predators that rely on vision to identify their prey such as birds and wasps normally avoid them, either because they are unpalatable, or aggressive. Thus some other arthropods mimic ants to escape predation (protective mimicry). Conversely, some species (e.g. Zodariidae spiders) use their anatomical and behavioral ant mimicry to hunt ants (aggressive mimicry). Other cases are also known.[1] The term myrmecomorphy is also used to describe ant mimicry.

Protective mimicry - mimic ants to avoid predation.

Female ant-mimic jumping spider, Myrmarachne sp. (left)  mimicking a weaver ant (right)
female myrmarachne sp IMG_3218 copy OUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!weaver ant IMG_3327 copy

Male ant-mimic jumping spider, Myrmarachne sp. mimicking a weaver ant carrying another worker, according to Wikipedia.

My 1st red ant-mimic spider...IMG_1384 copy

A black ant-mimic jumping spider, probably mimicking a Tetraponera sp. ant?
black ant mimic jumping spider IMG_7728 copy Tetraponera sp. ant IMG_0267 copy

An ant-mimic katydid of Macroxiphus sp. nymph, a mimicry of the Camponotus sp.?
Ant mimic katydid nymph.............IMG_3551b copy IMG_0014 copy

A red and black ant-mimic jumping spider, surely a mimicry of the fearsome semut selangor " Tetraponera rufonigra. (Image taken by Aniruddha, author of "Wanderer's Eye"
red and black ant-mimic jumping spider........IMG_3188 copy tetraponera rufonigra

Black ant-mimic jumping spider, mimicking the Polyrhachis sp?
black ant-mimic jumping spider (IMG_2394 copy) IMG_0483 copy

An ant-mimicking stick insect nymph:
stick insect nymph DSC_1788 web

Ant-mimicking mantis nymph
mantis nymph IMG_8963 copy

Ant-mimic Alydidae, two of them.

IMG_6190 copy ant mimic alydidae IMG_0642 copy

Aggressive mimicry - mimic ants in order to hunt them!

A male ant mimic crab spider Amyciaea lineatipes with weaver ant prey.
Amyciaea lineatipes IMG_9990 copy

An assassin bug nymph, Acanthaspis petax, with ant carcasses on its back, and an ant prey!
assassin bug nymph with ant carcasses on its back and also an ant prey IMG_9228 copy

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