Essay: Fun with the Raynox DCR-250, a flashgun and some plant life

Essay: Fun with the Raynox DCR-250, a flashgun and some plant life

There are some times where you don't think you have enough photographic material at your disposal, and in many cases this is true. But there is more chance you can make interesting photos with little time and resources, and without any photographically special venue at hand.

This was such a case, where one early summer afternoon, I thought it was a good idea to shoot some botanical close-ups, using the Raynox DCR-250 macro conversion lens. I have previously reviewed this little gadget and concluded it is a very useful device, especially for casual macro shooters, as well as super-macro situations (used on an actual macro lens).

I believe it is obvious you can't create any kind of creative lighting with the flash on the camera. One method is to use a flash cable. I used one by Meike, with Olympus TTL capability, which I didn't actually made use of. I rarely use TTL and, in this instance, you're better off using the flash in manual mode. You explore Inverse Square Law and play with the settings, and see what you get: after all, this is the spirit of such experiments. By the way, the flash used was an ordinary (and cheap) Yongnuo 560ii. I have used these flashes for more than 3 years now and found them quite dependable and excellent value for money.

Other ways to get the flash away from the camera is using a radio trigger, which unfortunately makes things somewhat more bulky (but wireless). You can also trigger the external flash with the on-camera flash, but that leads to lower sync speeds, in most cases.

Speaking of sync speeds, the E-M1 has the advantage of syncing up to 1/320 of a second. You can even get away with somewhat higher sync speeds, if you have no problem cropping the lower (dark) region in your frames. In my little experiment, high speed sync capability was crucial, since, all the photos you see were taken in bright sunlight. Using flash for such macro and close-up work, you can safely ignore the weather and environmental light altogether. You make your own creative lighting patterns, and decisively kill ambient light.

Of course one can experiment with a variety of flash modifiers, as long as they are portable enough. I made use of a Rogue Flashbender, utilizing it as flag most of the time.

So, here you have it: get a camera, any macro lens (even an old adapted manual lens will do great) or macro converter, a cheap flash and a cable, and go explore hidden artistic detail in your garden, your house, or indeed any "ordinary" place.  May I suggest that even a small sensor (1" or smaller) camera could be very effective: these cameras usually focus very close and in many cases have high flash sync speeds too.

Here is my small gallery, 20' minutes worth of shooting and an equal amount of time in post processing, fixing colors to my liking and cropping where necessary.



Addendum to the "Motorsport shooting" post

Addendum to the "Motorsport shooting" post

A brief motorsport shooting (with comments on mirrorless cameras performance)

A brief motorsport shooting (with comments on mirrorless cameras performance)

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