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Mophead Hydrangea, 5:1 macro <figure class="photo"><a href="https://www.jungledragon.com/image/103659/mophead_hydrangea_2.51_macro.html" title="Mophead Hydrangea, 2.5:1 macro"><img src="https://s3.amazonaws.com/media.jungledragon.com/images/2/103659_thumb.jpg?AWSAccessKeyId=05GMT0V3GWVNE7GGM1R2&Expires=1609372810&Signature=OmPkWUbyF%2FMkriQhPn2UcqGIis8%3D" width="200" height="134" alt="Mophead Hydrangea, 2.5:1 macro https://www.jungledragon.com/image/103658/mophead_hydrangea_51_macro.html<br />
These photos are the result of a technical stress test, so this is going to be a nerd post to welcome you to my world of pain.<br />
<br />
We&#039;re dealing with extreme macro here (2.5 - 5x magnification) which brings unique lighting problems. When you go beyond a 1:1 &quot;normal&quot; macro magnification, the concept of &quot;effective aperture&quot; applies. A rough formula:<br />
<br />
Effective Aperture = Lens Aperture x (1 + Magnification). <br />
<br />
Example: f/5.6 at 5x magnification becomes 5.6 x (1 + 5.6) = f/37.<br />
<br />
If you&#039;re familiar with aperture, you&#039;ll know f/37 means almost no light enters the lens. And this is just a mild example, in some situations you can end up with f/60, or f/80. <br />
<br />
In more human terms, neither daylight nor your normal indoor light will be enough to even see much in the viewfinder at all. Instead, you need to take the strongest light you own and hold it directly next to the subject, almost touching it, to even see the subject. <br />
<br />
Whilst this would allow you to position and focus, it&#039;s just the beginning of our problems. The light has to be very strong yet cold, as to not fry the subject. It needs to have consistent output, not flicker, and have a stable color temperature. <br />
<br />
Yet by far the biggest issue is that even with such a suitable light, it&#039;s still not strong enough to be able to use a fast shutter speed. A slow shutter speed is a fatal problem with extreme macro. Higher magnifications bring problems even experienced 1:1 photographers were unaware of. <br />
<br />
The wind flow in your house. Somebody walking the stairs. The laundry machine in the next room. A heavy car driving by. Each will destroy your photo stack, and you have to start over. <br />
<br />
Some people counter these problems in creative ways: rubber feet, dampening plates, wind screens, the like. Others simply go for even bigger lights, because they really need a faster shutter speed. And bigger lights are not an exaggeration:<br />
<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3HOKYyG9G4<br />
<br />
Note the additional problem of the insanely tiny working space between lens and subject. And once again, if those lights are hot, the subject itself, especially a flower, will move. It could be only 0.1mm, yet that&#039;s enough to ruin a stack.<br />
<br />
All of the above is called a continuous light strategy. Despite its challenges, some people are successful with it, but it&#039;s very hard or requires extreme measures. The biggest upside of all this pain is that continuous light gives you direct feedback on the exposure, what the photo (or one photo in a stack) will look like.<br />
<br />
And then there is flash. Flash is uniquely suitable to produce a large amount of light in a short time span, allowing us to freeze the subject. When we freeze the subject with a fast enough shutter speed, micro vibrations no longer matter (yet subject movement still does). <br />
<br />
Yet here too we have problems. At a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate vibration, says 1/200s or faster, we ask the very maximum of the typical flash unit. Now consider that we&#039;re asking that 100 times in a row, just to produce a stack to combine in a single photo.<br />
<br />
The first problem is battery life. You&#039;ll blast through 4 AA batteries in about 3-5 stacks, or at most 10 when using slower shutter speeds. Which is not very sustainable, as well as expensive. To add insult to injury, the battery can die halfway down the stack, ruining the entire stack. But before that happens, the unit will lower (or vary) output between shots, which again is fatal, as a stack needs to be consistent from beginning to end. If you have a cheaper flash unit, you may even destroy your unit this way if it does not have built-in protection against overheating.<br />
<br />
(continued in comment below...) Extreme Macro,Hydrangea macrophylla,Mophead Hydrangea" /></a></figure><br />
These photos are the result of a technical stress test, so this is going to be a nerd post to welcome you to my world of pain.<br />
<br />
We&#039;re dealing with extreme macro here (2.5 - 5x magnification) which brings unique lighting problems. When you go beyond a 1:1 &quot;normal&quot; macro magnification, the concept of &quot;effective aperture&quot; applies. A rough formula:<br />
<br />
Effective Aperture = Lens Aperture x (1 + Magnification). <br />
<br />
Example: f/5.6 at 5x magnification becomes 5.6 x (1 + 5.6) = f/37.<br />
<br />
If you&#039;re familiar with aperture, you&#039;ll know f/37 means almost no light enters the lens. And this is just a mild example, in some situations you can end up with f/60, or f/80. <br />
<br />
In more human terms, neither daylight nor your normal indoor light will be enough to even see much in the viewfinder at all. Instead, you need to take the strongest light you own and hold it directly next to the subject, almost touching it, to even see the subject. <br />
<br />
Whilst this would allow you to position and focus, it&#039;s just the beginning of our problems. The light has to be very strong yet cold, as to not fry the subject. It needs to have consistent output, not flicker, and have a stable color temperature. <br />
<br />
Yet by far the biggest issue is that even with such a suitable light, it&#039;s still not strong enough to be able to use a fast shutter speed. A slow shutter speed is a fatal problem with extreme macro. Higher magnifications bring problems even experienced 1:1 photographers were unaware of. <br />
<br />
The wind flow in your house. Somebody walking the stairs. The laundry machine in the next room. A heavy car driving by. Each will destroy your photo stack, and you have to start over. <br />
<br />
Some people counter these problems in creative ways: rubber feet, dampening plates, wind screens, the like. Others simply go for even bigger lights, because they really need a faster shutter speed. And bigger lights are not an exaggeration:<br />
<br />
<section class="video"><iframe width="448" height="282" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/n3HOKYyG9G4?hd=1&autoplay=0&rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></section><br />
<br />
Note the additional problem of the insanely tiny working space between lens and subject. And once again, if those lights are hot, the subject itself, especially a flower, will move. It could be only 0.1mm, yet that&#039;s enough to ruin a stack.<br />
<br />
All of the above is called a continuous light strategy. Despite its challenges, some people are successful with it, but it&#039;s very hard or requires extreme measures. The biggest upside of all this pain is that continuous light gives you direct feedback on the exposure, what the photo (or one photo in a stack) will look like.<br />
<br />
And then there is flash. Flash is uniquely suitable to produce a large amount of light in a short time span, allowing us to freeze the subject. When we freeze the subject with a fast enough shutter speed, micro vibrations no longer matter (yet subject movement still does). <br />
<br />
Yet here too we have problems. At a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate vibration, says 1/200s or faster, we ask the very maximum of the typical flash unit. Now consider that we&#039;re asking that 100 times in a row, just to produce a stack to combine in a single photo.<br />
<br />
The first problem is battery life. You&#039;ll blast through 4 AA batteries in about 3-5 stacks, or at most 10 when using slower shutter speeds. Which is not very sustainable, as well as expensive. To add insult to injury, the battery can die halfway down the stack, ruining the entire stack. But before that happens, the unit will lower (or vary) output between shots, which again is fatal, as a stack needs to be consistent from beginning to end. If you have a cheaper flash unit, you may even destroy your unit this way if it does not have built-in protection against overheating.<br />
<br />
(continued in comment below...) Extreme Macro,Hydrangea macrophylla,Mophead Hydrangea Click/tap to enlarge

Mophead Hydrangea, 5:1 macro

Mophead Hydrangea, 2.5:1 macro https://www.jungledragon.com/image/103658/mophead_hydrangea_51_macro.html<br />
These photos are the result of a technical stress test, so this is going to be a nerd post to welcome you to my world of pain.<br />
<br />
We're dealing with extreme macro here (2.5 - 5x magnification) which brings unique lighting problems. When you go beyond a 1:1 "normal" macro magnification, the concept of "effective aperture" applies. A rough formula:<br />
<br />
Effective Aperture = Lens Aperture x (1 + Magnification). <br />
<br />
Example: f/5.6 at 5x magnification becomes 5.6 x (1 + 5.6) = f/37.<br />
<br />
If you're familiar with aperture, you'll know f/37 means almost no light enters the lens. And this is just a mild example, in some situations you can end up with f/60, or f/80. <br />
<br />
In more human terms, neither daylight nor your normal indoor light will be enough to even see much in the viewfinder at all. Instead, you need to take the strongest light you own and hold it directly next to the subject, almost touching it, to even see the subject. <br />
<br />
Whilst this would allow you to position and focus, it's just the beginning of our problems. The light has to be very strong yet cold, as to not fry the subject. It needs to have consistent output, not flicker, and have a stable color temperature. <br />
<br />
Yet by far the biggest issue is that even with such a suitable light, it's still not strong enough to be able to use a fast shutter speed. A slow shutter speed is a fatal problem with extreme macro. Higher magnifications bring problems even experienced 1:1 photographers were unaware of. <br />
<br />
The wind flow in your house. Somebody walking the stairs. The laundry machine in the next room. A heavy car driving by. Each will destroy your photo stack, and you have to start over. <br />
<br />
Some people counter these problems in creative ways: rubber feet, dampening plates, wind screens, the like. Others simply go for even bigger lights, because they really need a faster shutter speed. And bigger lights are not an exaggeration:<br />
<br />
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3HOKYyG9G4<br />
<br />
Note the additional problem of the insanely tiny working space between lens and subject. And once again, if those lights are hot, the subject itself, especially a flower, will move. It could be only 0.1mm, yet that's enough to ruin a stack.<br />
<br />
All of the above is called a continuous light strategy. Despite its challenges, some people are successful with it, but it's very hard or requires extreme measures. The biggest upside of all this pain is that continuous light gives you direct feedback on the exposure, what the photo (or one photo in a stack) will look like.<br />
<br />
And then there is flash. Flash is uniquely suitable to produce a large amount of light in a short time span, allowing us to freeze the subject. When we freeze the subject with a fast enough shutter speed, micro vibrations no longer matter (yet subject movement still does). <br />
<br />
Yet here too we have problems. At a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate vibration, says 1/200s or faster, we ask the very maximum of the typical flash unit. Now consider that we're asking that 100 times in a row, just to produce a stack to combine in a single photo.<br />
<br />
The first problem is battery life. You'll blast through 4 AA batteries in about 3-5 stacks, or at most 10 when using slower shutter speeds. Which is not very sustainable, as well as expensive. To add insult to injury, the battery can die halfway down the stack, ruining the entire stack. But before that happens, the unit will lower (or vary) output between shots, which again is fatal, as a stack needs to be consistent from beginning to end. If you have a cheaper flash unit, you may even destroy your unit this way if it does not have built-in protection against overheating.<br />
<br />
(continued in comment below...) Extreme Macro,Hydrangea macrophylla,Mophead Hydrangea

These photos are the result of a technical stress test, so this is going to be a nerd post to welcome you to my world of pain.

We're dealing with extreme macro here (2.5 - 5x magnification) which brings unique lighting problems. When you go beyond a 1:1 "normal" macro magnification, the concept of "effective aperture" applies. A rough formula:

Effective Aperture = Lens Aperture x (1 + Magnification).

Example: f/5.6 at 5x magnification becomes 5.6 x (1 + 5.6) = f/37.

If you're familiar with aperture, you'll know f/37 means almost no light enters the lens. And this is just a mild example, in some situations you can end up with f/60, or f/80.

In more human terms, neither daylight nor your normal indoor light will be enough to even see much in the viewfinder at all. Instead, you need to take the strongest light you own and hold it directly next to the subject, almost touching it, to even see the subject.

Whilst this would allow you to position and focus, it's just the beginning of our problems. The light has to be very strong yet cold, as to not fry the subject. It needs to have consistent output, not flicker, and have a stable color temperature.

Yet by far the biggest issue is that even with such a suitable light, it's still not strong enough to be able to use a fast shutter speed. A slow shutter speed is a fatal problem with extreme macro. Higher magnifications bring problems even experienced 1:1 photographers were unaware of.

The wind flow in your house. Somebody walking the stairs. The laundry machine in the next room. A heavy car driving by. Each will destroy your photo stack, and you have to start over.

Some people counter these problems in creative ways: rubber feet, dampening plates, wind screens, the like. Others simply go for even bigger lights, because they really need a faster shutter speed. And bigger lights are not an exaggeration:



Note the additional problem of the insanely tiny working space between lens and subject. And once again, if those lights are hot, the subject itself, especially a flower, will move. It could be only 0.1mm, yet that's enough to ruin a stack.

All of the above is called a continuous light strategy. Despite its challenges, some people are successful with it, but it's very hard or requires extreme measures. The biggest upside of all this pain is that continuous light gives you direct feedback on the exposure, what the photo (or one photo in a stack) will look like.

And then there is flash. Flash is uniquely suitable to produce a large amount of light in a short time span, allowing us to freeze the subject. When we freeze the subject with a fast enough shutter speed, micro vibrations no longer matter (yet subject movement still does).

Yet here too we have problems. At a shutter speed fast enough to eliminate vibration, says 1/200s or faster, we ask the very maximum of the typical flash unit. Now consider that we're asking that 100 times in a row, just to produce a stack to combine in a single photo.

The first problem is battery life. You'll blast through 4 AA batteries in about 3-5 stacks, or at most 10 when using slower shutter speeds. Which is not very sustainable, as well as expensive. To add insult to injury, the battery can die halfway down the stack, ruining the entire stack. But before that happens, the unit will lower (or vary) output between shots, which again is fatal, as a stack needs to be consistent from beginning to end. If you have a cheaper flash unit, you may even destroy your unit this way if it does not have built-in protection against overheating.

(continued in comment below...)

    comments (6)

  1. (continued)

    The main workaround is to plan several seconds of pause between each shot of the stack, to cool down the flash unit, and allow it to "recycle". It doesn't solve the battery problem, yet it does solve inconsistent output. The effect is that a stack takes several times longer to complete. This kills creativity, for trying a different shot or angle is so expensive, time-wise. A longer stack process also increases the risk of the subject somehow still moving.

    After this lecture, I'll now get to the point of what is so special about this photo. The shutter speed is 1/320s and 1/400s respectively, which for extreme macro flash is very, very fast, and normally requires output that cannot be sustained. Yet at the same time, this photo is a fast stack. There is a mere 0.5s wait between shots, and each shot consistently achieves that shutter speed, at consistent output. This stack is 10 times faster than usual, at a faster shutter speed than usual.

    How? By using a flash power pack, this one:
    https://www.dpreview.com/files/p/articles/1292140130/Nissin_PS_8.jpeg

    This power pack is basically a large mobile battery, similar to a power bank. You charge it with AC power. Next, you connect it via a special cable to your flash unit. Typically, only high-end flash unit have an external power port. When connected, the flash unit will still use its AA batteries for its menu and zoom head, yet use external power for the actual light output. This external power does not have the limitations of batteries. It can output far more power, and consistently do so for a much longer time.

    This made the fast shutter speed possible, and the 10 times shorter wait time between shots.

    The eagle eyed reader may now wonder...why doesn't the flash head overheat this time, regardless of where it draws power from? Good question, I learned a very interesting bit in finding out.

    As it turns out, the flash unit was never overheating in the first place. I thought it was overheating by lowering output as a mean of self-protection against overheating. False. The actual bottleneck is the capacitor of the flash unit, the part that transports power from AA batteries to flash head. It can't keep up.

    In fact, without this bottleneck, it turns out I can fire max power 100 times in a row, and it doesn't even register as a temperature increase (it is shown on the flash LCD panel).

    As said, it's a stress test, yet a succesful one. I would normally tone things down a bit. Above all I'm happy to have solved the AA battery problem, inconsistent light output and slow stacks.

    I hope this explanation is a suitable unwelcoming intro to just one problem of extreme macro. As the famous song goes:

    "If you're having focus problems I feel bad for you, son. I have 99 problems but normal magnification ain't one"
    Posted 29 days ago
  2. After reading your lengthy and very detailed explanation I’m glad you survived the “test”! Impressive results but have to say I’m not ready to follow your example... yet. Good on you! Posted 29 days ago
    1. Can totally imagine. I'm not even sure how much I'm going to continue doing it either :) Posted 28 days ago
      1. I have thought of adventuring into this “realm”. I foresaw two main problems. The first is that most of my subjects are alive and tend to move and the biggest problem is my lack of patience! Having said all of that,”Good on you!”. Posted 28 days ago
        1. I too have the patience problem, which makes this quite unnatural to me. Likewise, I also much prefer field photography over this. So it's more of a fallback option, to be used sometimes.

          Perhaps it's a good retirement option, but that's far away hehe.

          Posted 28 days ago
          1. Keep that last thought close! Posted 28 days ago

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''Hydrangea macrophylla'' is a species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae, native to Japan. It is a deciduous shrub growing to 2 m tall by 2.5 m broad with large heads of pink or blue flowers in summer and autumn. Common names include bigleaf hydrangea, French hydrangea, lacecap hydrangea, mophead hydrangea, penny mac and hortensia.

Similar species: Cornales
Species identified by Ferdy Christant
View Ferdy Christant's profile

By Ferdy Christant

All rights reserved
Uploaded Oct 27, 2020. Captured Sep 8, 2020 14:35.
  • NIKON D850
  • f/1.2
  • 1/400s
  • ISO400
  • 50mm