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Dan's45
01-24-2006, 03:34 AM
top of the morning to everyone,
i am writing with a question for those who work with macro. i primarily work with a 4x5 monorail camera and am wanting to maybe start working with photographing orchids, as that is another hobby of mine. i plan on doing most of it in black and white with the occassional color pic every now and again. any hinters on what i should focus on? no pun intended there. i have a black backdrop to work against as of right now-just some old cloth found in a spare room. it seems to work to take away the shadows, except inside around hard lights i'd guess you'd call it-normal lights in the household. anyway when having it against the windows with a thing blue curtain, seems to really draw out the shadows and still give me enough light to see with. is there anything else i should look into, as i am currently trying to find anything on photographing orchids, with little avail. i do not like working with flash units or the sort, strictly available light only-feel it gives the subject a nicer tone. would looking into reflectors work for beefin up the tone? what does anyone who works with this subject handle it-the set up, choosing locations, what filters to use,etc.,etc. any help would be appreciated. thanks!!

Mark H
01-24-2006, 08:31 AM
I've used inexpensive gooseneck halogen desk lamps, with deflectors and bounce cards. Sort of a mini studio set-up on my dining room table. For backdrop, tri-fold cardboard presentation boards (at office supply stores) come in black or white. I've also used sheer white cloth behind with a strong light source behind to get a white background. All very inexpensive but takes practice to get the lighting right and control the shadows.
Exposures were usually up to 30 seconds and I often had to remind my 7 y.o. son not to run through the room during the exposure. There are some examples of macro shots using this setup in my personal gallery. Good luck!

Peter Rockstroh
01-24-2006, 08:59 AM
I have photographed orchids for a few years now and worked with black cardboard and windowlight as a "setup," and Im pleased with the results. Unless you are working with tiny species (Lepanthes, Pleurothallis and similar), or want to do extreme close-ups, you need no macro. Keep bellows exposure compensation and reciprocity data handy. My only non-technical advice is: start working with species with simple shapes (Phaelenopsis, Vanda, Lycaste), especially in B&W, until you get the hang of what you want your images to look like, before you venture into photographing the more bizarre plants. It takes time to tune the eye and find out how to look at your subjects to bring out their exotic character, instead of producing just another flower photo.

Good luck,

Peter

Shmoo
01-24-2006, 01:04 PM
If you're using a Sinar then you'll probably do fine with a 150mm and an extension rail. If you have a standard 12" rail, you'll probably want a 6" extension. Your standard bellows should be fine.

pharquarx
01-24-2006, 01:58 PM
Bright good morning to you also. Photographing orchids is one of my passions, I do all of the awards photography for the AOS and the Cymbidium Society of America here in Southern California. My website is www.orchid-photographer.com and I was most recently published pretty extensively in a book titled "Understanding Orchids".

I use a Nikon N90S with a 60 mm macro lens, Kodak 64T film, quartz halogen "soft" lighting and both black cloth and a "photo grey" matt board that I got from Aaron Brothers for background. My setup is very portable. Most of my exposures are shot at f11 to f22 at around 1 second exposure. I tend to meter on the portion of the subject that would be considered as average grey and then add about 2/3 stop. Focus can be tricky, but at f 11 to f22, there is sufficient depth of field to capture the subject, but not the background (which should be unlit and about 2 to 3 feet behind the subject). Focus on a point about 1/3 back on the subject as depth of field increases twice as much behind the focal point as it does in front.

I am also using a 4x5 Toyo, again with Kodak 64T (EPY film) and a Schneider Makro 180 mm lens.

Good luck and feel free to email me anytime via my website if there are other aspects that you would like to discuss.

Charlie

Claire Senft
01-24-2006, 02:40 PM
A mirror on a stand set in the sunlight can throw a beam of strong light a long distance. It can be bright enough that you may wish to work with silks to diffuse it. This can be on, a bright day a very flexible, and inexpensive solution.

roy
01-24-2006, 06:44 PM
Bright good morning to you also. Photographing orchids is one of my passions, Charlie

This is an interesting thread and would be relevant to most who photograph flowers. The website has some nice images. One of the problems I have found when considering this subject is that it is not always easy to isolate single blooms without some pruning, something I am reluctant to do. I have a half-plate camera with a 1:1 extension and intend to try flowers using black and white film.

Dan Fromm
01-24-2006, 08:02 PM
This is an interesting thread and would be relevant to most who photograph flowers. The website has some nice images. One of the problems I have found when considering this subject is that it is not always easy to isolate single blooms without some pruning, something I am reluctant to do. I have a half-plate camera with a 1:1 extension and intend to try flowers using black and white film.Roy, I beg to differ with you. So far the thread is somewhat relevant to those who want to shoot flowers indoors and who are averse to using flash. Out-of-doors, especially with plants a bit more flexible than some orchid cultivars, wind can be a major factor and power for hot lights isn't always within reach. I have an OmniLight with 30v bulb and a 30v battery belt, but using it for still photography somehow never occurs to me.

The lighting techniques described so far all work, and can work very well. But for out-and-about use they're not always very practical.

I shoot flowers with three different setups, all with flash. 55 MicroNikkor -- my wife's /3.5 AI or my /2.8 AIS -- with two little flashes on a Jones of Hollywood macro bracket. 105/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS with two little flashes on a Spiratone Macrodapter. And 2x3 Speed Graphic with 100/6.3 Reichert Neupolar or 4"/5.6 Wollensak Enlarging Pro Raptar and two Vivitar 283s on a bracket I made. Highest magnification with the 55s is 1:1, with the 105 MicroNikkor is 1.14:1, on the Graphic the Neupolar goes to a little over 2:1. I shoot my Nikons hand-held, the Graphic on a tripod with 2-axis focusing rail.

When I don't want the dread black background effect, I have to use another flash to illuminate the background appropriately or an 18% grey card held by an assistant (spelled W*I*F*E) behind the subject.

Yeah, I know, my Graphic isn't even 1/4 plate, but even so you should be able to steal some of my ideas, and you're welcome to them.

pharquarx, I disagree a little with you too. When I do the calculations for closeup DoF, I get it pretty symmetrical around the plane of best focus. A minor quibble, especially since there's so little of it ...

Many are the ways,

Dan

jp80874
01-24-2006, 08:36 PM
An alternative to the Schneider 180 macro is a 180mm Rodenstock Apo-Macro Sironar f5.6, filter 67mm. You can't go wrong with either.

A very cheap tool I learned about in school is a strong stand to hold reflectors, back drop or lights if you decide to fill. Use a two pound coffee tin. Fill with mixed Sakrete cement. Clamp a 1"x2"x6' piece of wood centered in the mix for a few hours. Paint flat black if needed and you have a very good stand for little money. Pick up spring clamps at the hardware store to hold objects to the stand.

Enjoy,

John Powers

pharquarx
01-24-2006, 09:53 PM
Very interesting and hopefully continuing discussion.

I have been very reluctant to use flash for my subjects as my limited experience, and probably simplistic approach, yielded very flat looking images, which is not bad for items such as phalaenopis, miltonias, vandas and the like. However, I like the use of the lights on stands (four total) as, when I light frontally with two and move two to the sides, the texture and three dimensional quality of the flowers is emphasized in the final photographs. One exciting aspect also is to selectively backlight some of the orchids such as cattleyas and Chinese paphiopedilums as they have wonderful veining and, with the cattleyas, the front surface under these conditions takes on an almost irredescent (sp???) glow. One of my cohorts (Greg Allikas) who does the photography down in Florida uses flash very successfully and I believe that Charles Marsden Fitch up in New York also does the same. Google their names to see some of their work as well as go to the American Orchid Society website.

As far as the focus point, I am a practical, simple man with an engineering background and tend to go with what I have found works well, whether I understand the complicated theory and concepts behind them. As I tell people who are trying to learn this type of photography, it is better to err on focusing too forward on the subject as opposed to back on the subject. An orchid photo with the foreground features sharp is a lot more appealing than one where the foreground features are out of focus and the background ones are in. The nice thing about today's optics are that they are superb when working with the shallow depth of field that is present in this type of photography.

One other item too is isolation of a single bloom, tricky at times, I use masking tape or sometimes roll solder wire to gently move/hold the arrangement to my liking.

Also too, on the subjects of backgrounds, dark flowers command a light background and vice versa. Seamless white paper, when unlit and placed about two to three feet behind usually provides a nice pearlescent grey color that works well with dark or light flowers.

Hope this proves informative. Have fun.

Charlie

P.S. I do not use any filters, I even remove the UV protector when I photograph.

Dan Fromm
01-25-2006, 07:30 AM
Very interesting and hopefully continuing discussion.

I have been very reluctant to use flash for my subjects as my limited experience, and probably simplistic approach, yielded very flat looking images, which is not bad for items such as phalaenopis, miltonias, vandas and the like. However, I like the use of the lights on stands (four total) as, when I light frontally with two and move two to the sides, the texture and three dimensional quality of the flowers is emphasized in the final photographs. One exciting aspect also is to selectively backlight some of the orchids such as cattleyas and Chinese paphiopedilums as they have wonderful veining and, with the cattleyas, the front surface under these conditions takes on an almost irredescent (sp???) glow. One of my cohorts (Greg Allikas) who does the photography down in Florida uses flash very successfully and I believe that Charles Marsden Fitch up in New York also does the same. Google their names to see some of their work as well as go to the American Orchid Society website.

<snip>
Hope this proves informative. Have fun.

Charlie

P.S. I do not use any filters, I even remove the UV protector when I photograph.Charlie, what can be done with hot lights can be done with flash. The most painful aspect of using flash is that when using flashes that don't have modeling lights you have to have faith that the light will do what you want. If, that is, you're using film and have to wait to see the results. My preferred films for flowers are KM with the Nikons (there's still some in the freezer) and EPN for 2x3. When the KM finally runs out I'll probably switch to E100G for both formats.

FWIW, my flash rigs all incorporate a pair of flashes. The flashes are anywhere from one to three focal lengths from the lens' axis and are angled in at around 45 degrees. This lighting gives good relief and brings out texture well at the cost, sometimes, of the dread double shadows. I'm not using a poor man's ringlight.

If you're happy with your current approach -- and you seem to be very -- there's not much reason to change what you're doing.

Cheers,

Dan

pharquarx
01-25-2006, 01:40 PM
Thanks for the input, looks like it will be one of those rainy days, nothing to do, think I'll set up in the garage and piddle exercises.

Hopefully we gave the thread starter a lot of good information for his use. I learned a few things along the way too. Glad to be a part of this group.

Chalrie

pharquarx
01-25-2006, 02:26 PM
Just one last note, another interesting technique that I have seen for photographing orchids and botanicals is to lay a cut spray out on a light box and photograph that way.

Lots of ways to peel a banana.

ctr

Dan Fromm
01-25-2006, 03:31 PM
Just one last note, another interesting technique that I have seen for photographing orchids and botanicals is to lay a cut spray out on a light box and photograph that way.

Lots of ways to peel a banana.

ctrThis can be a very effective way to photograph all sorts of small objects in the studio. Not very often for me, mainly because I go to the field and light boxes prefer to stay home.

Lots of ways to peel a banana, lots of banana peels to slip on,

Dan

Buster6X6
01-26-2006, 12:10 AM
I hope someone can help me out. We have every spring Orchid show in town.Three years ago I made a flash unit from one way cameras and Manfrotto #033 flash holder with good success. With low level of light they provide, you can get very close without blowing out the colors. That was with 35mm Canon equipment. I would like to use my 4X5 camera. I have Toyo45 and Graflex 4X5. Would one of this cameras be OK to use. I don't have macro lenses. I do have 90;135;150;180;210;240.250 and 270 for my 4X5's. How much bellows do I need with this kind of images?

Thanks in advance Greg

Dan's45
01-26-2006, 05:39 AM
wow, didn't expect so many responses!! this cool!! what i have been playing with lately is this: focusing on or two flowers and deliberately throwing the rest out of focus. it might be just me, but i feel it adds dimension to the whole thing. kinda makes it stand out more than your average macro work. either that or i am just plain crazy don't know what the heck i talkin bout!! right now i am merely doing what i tend to call 'practice runs', playing with depth of field and settings to get different looks and then writing down some comments, based on any visuals i encounter. i am getting just the orchids in the picture, not the stalk or the leaves, just the flowers of the orchids themselves. by the way, the lens i am using is basically the only real lens i can do this with, a 135 nikkor. i have a 210 schneider, but i am getting the same replies....use a 100mm or something like that. well...don't have one, so next avail will have to do i guess. i just received my 6" extension rail today, so am currently playing with it as well, what a difference! anyway, getting late...have to go bed now...have to work tomorrow!! :-) night all! keep me coming...it really helps to read em!

Dan Fromm
01-26-2006, 08:02 AM
I hope someone can help me out. We have every spring Orchid show in town.Three years ago I made a flash unit from one way cameras and Manfrotto #033 flash holder with good success. With low level of light they provide, you can get very close without blowing out the colors. That was with 35mm Canon equipment. I would like to use my 4X5 camera. I have Toyo45 and Graflex 4X5. Would one of this cameras be OK to use. I don't have macro lenses. I do have 90;135;150;180;210;240.250 and 270 for my 4X5's. How much bellows do I need with this kind of images?

Thanks in advance GregThe magic formula you need is rear node-to-film distance = f*(1 +m). f = lens' focal length, m = magnification, and for most LF lenses the rear node isn't far from the diaphragm.

Either camera will work well if you're shooting straight ahead. The Toyo probably offers more flexibility.

Which lens to use? Can't answer with the limited information you've provided. What have you got (make & model as well as focal length)? What magnification do you want to shoot at?

About exposure. GN arithmetic will give you the effective aperture you want. GN/(flash-to-subject distance) is it. The GN of two identical flashes = sqrt(2)*a single flash's GN. To convert effective aperture to the aperture setting to use, aperture set = effective aperture/(1 + lens' pupillary magnification*m). For most LF lenses, pupillary magnification = 1.

Buster6X6
01-26-2006, 10:41 AM
Thanks Dan
The lenses I have are:Schneider Xenar135/4.7,Componon 135/5.6;150 Syronar-N 5.6;210 Fujinon-W5.6;Schneider Xenar 240/4.5(Linhof);Schneider tele-arton 270/5.5. I think Super-Angulon 90mm is to wide for closeups or not?I would like to fill the frame with the flower. It is hard to shoot when there is 6-7 plants sitting on the display table without having distracting background.

Greg

Dan Fromm
01-26-2006, 11:29 AM
Thanks Dan
The lenses I have are:Schneider Xenar135/4.7,Componon 135/5.6;150 Syronar-N 5.6;210 Fujinon-W5.6;Schneider Xenar 240/4.5(Linhof);Schneider tele-arton 270/5.5. I think Super-Angulon 90mm is to wide for closeups or not?I would like to fill the frame with the flower. It is hard to shoot when there is 6-7 plants sitting on the display table without having distracting background.

GregHmm. Don't take it too too personally, but you're nuts.

Filling the frame with a single bloom will often require you to work above 1:1. This ain't easy and there's very little depth of field. To learn more about what you're up against, buy a copy of Lester Lefkowitz' book The Manual of Closeup Photography. Out of print, available used through, in alphabetical order, www.abebooks.com, www.addall.com, www.amazon.com,and occasionally on eBay.

Not knowing more, I assume that you have 300 mm of extension +/- to play with. If that's so, your best bet is probably the Componon. I expect its in a #0, if so you can easily switch the elements around (front to back, back to front) when working above 1:1; up to 1:1 it will work better facing normally.

The SA will get you to a little above 2:1 and, again, it should be reversed above 1:1. Might work well enough, worth trying.

You might consider buying one of the cheap ex-MP-4 75/4.5 Tominons and an equally cheap ex-MP-4 Copal #1 Press with no diaphragm to hold it. These things turn up often on eBay, you're looking at at most a $80 expenditure. And that will take you to around 3:1. Or maybe even an ex-MP-4 50/4.5 Tominon, will get you to 5:1 but won't come close to covering 4x5 near 1:1. I've had both lenses; they're not the best, which is why mine are in the past tense, but they're also good enough.

Don't even think of using your 150 Sironar or longer lenses, your Componon is the best tool you have for this job.

FWIW, I went up to 2x3 because I was dissatisfied with flower pictures taken on 35 mm. On 35 mm, I could get good detail in the bloom OR a nice shot of the bloom in its setting. I can often shoot 2x3 at a magnfication no higher than I'd use for just the bloom on 35 mm and get both. In my limited experience, the benefits of shooting on a format larger than 35 mm above 1:1 are often illusory. Read Lefkowitz.

Cheers,

Dan

pharquarx
01-26-2006, 12:45 PM
Couple of additional thoughts, I use my Schneider 180 mm makro for shots of orchids with 4x5.

The dimensions that I start out with using this lens is 360mm of extension and about 180mm distance from the subject and then move from there (bellows extension and the whole tripod and camera) to get what I want. At this setting, my exposure is 1.5 to 2 stops over metered to compensate for bellows extension. If one is to err on exposure, err on the side of slight overexposure - 1/2 to 2/3 stop for some punch to the finished image.

Longer lenses will increase the working distance from lens to subject, but, the depth of field decreases and the images tend to flatten.

Buster 6 x 6, I have a good friend here in southern California, Paul Tuskes, who uses a setup similar to yours and does it very well. I think his photos were used recently to illustrate a book on phalaenopsis.

The American Orchid Society has a guide book on photographing orchids, recently updated.

Their guidelines to me for photographing awards is one flower, head on, dominating the frame. Very boring, so I tend to meet their requirements, but include additional flowers to add interest to the frame and show the habit of the inflorescense.

Charlie