December 15, 2012


It snowed last night, so I thought I'd try shooting some snowflakes.
The results are pretty cool, but they aren't fantastic.

For the shoot, I used the Canon 5D Mk III and my Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.  In addition I used my macro extension tubes, I've got a 12mm, a 20mm, and a 36mm.  I also used a generic LED ring light.  My tripod, weighted down with a beanbag, a cable release, and mirror lock up were all used to help eliminate motion blur.

This first image was shot at f/22, 0.5 Sec, ISO 160, using the 36mm tube.  This is about a 75% crop from the original and was processed using LR4 and CS5.  In CS5, I did a levels adjustment and added a high pass filter.  In LR4, I tweaked the contrast and the highlights.  I'd like to be able to crop in even tighter, which means I need to be tighter for the original shot.

This was one of the last images that I shot.  For this, I had closed my lens down to f/32 to get as much depth as possible.  Because of this, I knew that I'd need to adjust my ISO so that I could still get a decent shutter speed.  I pushed the ISO to 400, not wanting to go higher to avoid any noise.  I also used all three tubes on this image, allowing me to get to about 2 inches from the snow.  This brought the light closer, and therefore brighter on the subject and allowed me to use a 1/15 sec shutter speed.  This was given a high pass filter in CS5 and a few minor tweaks in LR4, including an adjustment to the whites and blacks, as well as a contrast adjustment.  This is about a 50% crop form the original.  The results are better than the previous image, but I can still do better.

So, I think the key issue was not enough light.  With more light, I can drop the ISO back down and push the shutter speed way up.  This should help eliminate any motion blur from the wind (it was pretty calm, but it doesn't take much with subjects this small).  It will also reduce any noise issues.  My friend has this cool mount that allows you to position two speedlights for macro work,  I'm going to need to borrow that for the next round. . . 

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