Sunday, 8 April 2012

Shooting a Ladybird in Macro

Hi All,

The other day, whilst in the garden, I spotted (pardon the pun) a Ladybird on a bush. On closer examination I noticed that there were two of them, one under the other. I decided to have a go at photographing them so quickly ran inside the house to grab my gear.

Normally when I try to do this the subject either moves or leaves the area altogether so it was imperative that I moved quickly.

I set up my D300s with my Sigma 50mm macro lens and set the front of the lens as close as I could to the Ladybird without disturbing it. Unfortunately in order to get a good view I had to place the camera in such a position that the body cast a shadow on the subject. I tried a couple of exposures but it soon became apparent that some additional lighting was needed.

I set up my SB910 speed light on a tripod and manoeuvred is in to position just to the rear of the lens (shown below). Connecting the flash to the camera with an SC20 sync cord I set both the flash and the camera in manual mode and took a few test exposures. The ladybird didn't appear to mind, in fact the only reaction I got was that it repositioned itself slightly further along the branch then settled down again.

Camera and flash setup
Naively I hadn't realised just how shiny and reflective a ladybirds wings were. On examining the test shots on the monitor I found that the exposure was reasonable but the flash head could be seen quite clearly on the wings.

I fastened a diffuser dome to the SB910 and took a few more test exposures until I reached a compromise between reflection and exposure. I also noticed that whilst the speedlight was causing a reflection it was also bringing out some of the detail on the wings which was a good thing. After a few more exposures I settled for f22 @ 1/60 second, ISO100 and the flash set at 1/4 power.

My favourite shots of the set are below.

The rest of the images from the set can be found in the Nature gallery on my website at

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