Gordon Laing wrote:
We need to know more about how you did them! Tell us more about the Canon MP-E65 macro lens - is it easy to use? Is the depth of field hard to work with?
What kind of lighting do you use? And how do you get the insects to stand still long enough? Are they in fact deceased, or do you have a colection of co-operative pets?!
Sorry for so many questions, but the photos are wonderful and I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to know more about how to do them!
The Canon MP-E65 is a macro lens that can only be used for macrophotography.Other macrolenses can be use for portraits or other uses than macro...this MP-E65 can not be used that way.It does not focus at infinity. This fully manual lens "zooms" between 1:1 (lifesize) and 5:1( 5x lifesize) .This means when used on a 30D or 400D (or other 1.6crop bodies) at 1:1 lifesize you could fill the photo with objects 22x15mm in size.....at 5:1 you can fill the photo with an object 4,4 x 3 mm in size. The workingdistance is very limited at 1:1 its about 100mm at the 5:1 setting its 40mm between subject and front lens. There's no focusring , you can focus by moving the lens back or forwards.
It takes a long time to get used to this lens....but once you get the hang of it there's nothing in Canons line-up that gets even close. The sharpness is really unbelievable. I have used the good Ef 100mm2.8macro for a while....but when you compare the photo's taken with this lens at 1:1 against the MP-E lens they do not look sharp at all.(sorry Canon).
For the best results you need to use a flash with this lens. The workdistances are very short and the shadow cast by your gear blocks most natural ambiant light. Most other macrophotographers that i know use a Canon MR14 ex(ringflash) or a Canon MT24 ex(twin flash) . These are both very good but really expensive. I do not use them . I use the build in flash from my 30D and a special flash softener (diffuser) that i attach at the front of the MP-E65 lens. The light that comes from the flash gets spread evenly on the diffuser plate and gives a soft light on my subject. Normally the light from the build-in flash would not reach in front of the lens because the lens blocks most of it. When used with this diffuser i can work at 2,5:1 without any other lightsource. The diffuser is just a piece semi transparent neutral colored plastic( 20x15cm) with a hole cut at the bottom.The lens fits snuggly in this hole. Without the diffuser(softener) the light would be to hard ,an this gives to much reflections on the shiny parts of the insect. Hard light also gives dark ugly shadows.
When i want to work at higher magnification (2,5:1 and higher) i use a Ex 430 speedlite(with a diffuser , softbox or an omnibounce cap) that i use with an off-shoe cord. The flash is attached on a flexible arm that i can bend in the exact position that i need.
The camera is always set on M-mode. Aperture at the max f16 setting, shutterspeed at max sync 1/250sec. By using a higher or lower flash output i can bring more ore less light on the subject. After a while you know the exact settings that fit the situation.
At short workdistance the depht of field (dof) is very narrow. No more than 2mm at the 1:1 end(at f16) and maybe 1/4 mm at 5:1(at f16). So you need good eyesight to get the focus exactly where you need it.
All the insects that i photograph are alive and well....there absolutely no fun in photographing dead ones. Photographing fast moving insects(flies) can be compared to hunting rabbits and birds( but without killing them). You need to move slow without making to much noise. The first photo is critical....some insects are allready gone when the flash fires....all you get is a piece of theirs wings or legs at the top of the picture....others remain in place and you can take several shots before they fly or run off.
I think they get stunned by the flash and it takes them a while to see again
I hope this info is usefull to somebody.....and please forgive me my bad writing in English