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Photographing Tarantulas

MikeyD

Arachnosquire
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
136
I haven't been doing much photography these last few years but after my DLSRs shutter died last year after taking only a couple photos on a trip to Costa Rica last winter I knew I needed up update my gear. I got a new Canon 80D, a new macro lens, a Raynox DCR-250 macro, some new lighting and a flash, and a macro focusing rail. I bought this new gear with the intention of getting back into photography and macro photography in general. I used to photograph my exotic plants but have become very interested in photographing my inverts after seeing some of the incredible photos on this site. I have experience with focus stacking as I had used it years ago with some of my botanical photos. Really what I am having problems with is how to work with a living subject that just wants to run away. What techniques do people use to keep tarantulas in position? So far I have just tried to encourage a T to sit on a piece of cork bark but I have been unable to get even a single photo because I haven't been able to get the shot composed and in focus before the subject decides to wander off. I have read that some people will take a large low tub of water and place the cork/wood/rock in the middle with the tarantula on top and then hope that it will stay put. Are there any other techniques? I do have a collection of beetles and other mounted insects and many interesting plants that I can photograph but I would really like to start learning how to photograph my tarantulas in a way that presents them in a more aesthetic way, outside of their enclosures.
 

Greasylake

Arachnoprince
Joined
Jul 23, 2017
Messages
1,323
Feed it first, that usually helps. Also, be careful not to get a cloud of hairs in your face.

I had a MM die not so long ago and I took some pictures of him after I spread him out to dry, taking pictures of a pokie when it's dead is a lot easier than when it's alive, I'll tell you that.
 

Dry Desert

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
513
Feed it first, that usually helps. Also, be careful not to get a cloud of hairs in your face.

I had a MM die not so long ago and I took some pictures of him after I spread him out to dry, taking pictures of a pokie when it's dead is a lot easier than when it's alive, I'll tell you that.
Inverts usually tend to use the same areas of their enclosure. Watch and establish the main area your invert prefres and setup all you equipment on that spot , pre focus and wait for the right moment. As you have already pre focused there won't be any fiddling around.
 

CJJon

Arachnokrólewicz
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
544
I have read that some people will take a large low tub of water and place the cork/wood/rock in the middle with the tarantula on top and then hope that it will stay put.
LOL!
 

CJJon

Arachnokrólewicz
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
544
IMO, ditch the focus rail and get a bit better lens, one that has better working distance, and handhold.

This lens would be heaps better than what you have and has a 1:1 working distance of almost 12" : https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/393445/Tokina_ATXAF100PROC_100mm_f_2_8_AT_X_M100.html

Use off-camera flash and shoot at f/8 or smaller to get the most depth of field you can. I can take several shots handheld and get a nice stack out of it. I manually focus on the nearest part of the object and then rock my whole body forward taking images as I go.

Haven't done any real tarantula images though. Yet...

These were all handheld stacks:



 

MikeyD

Arachnosquire
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
136
IMO, ditch the focus rail and get a bit better lens, one that has better working distance, and handhold.

This lens would be heaps better than what you have and has a 1:1 working distance of almost 12" : https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/used/393445/Tokina_ATXAF100PROC_100mm_f_2_8_AT_X_M100.html

Use off-camera flash and shoot at f/8 or smaller to get the most depth of field you can. I can take several shots handheld and get a nice stack out of it. I manually focus on the nearest part of the object and then rock my whole body forward taking images as I go.

Haven't done any real tarantula images though. Yet...

These were all handheld stacks:




Thanks for the suggestions. Right now I have the Oshiro 60mm f/2.8 2:1 LD UNC Ultra-Macro Lens plus that Raynox DCR-250 I mentioned. I also have a Opteka Pro E-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Flash and an articulating arm or a extra tripod I can use but I have no real experience using them yet. I have never had any success shooting macro hand held but maybe the flash will help fix the problems I usually have with shooting hand held? I have shot macro of insects outdoors handheld with some success and I am sure it's because of the high light levels. I really need to both practice using my new equipment and better understanding what camera settings to use and how to use the off camera flash. I also have a small daylight LED and a softbox diffuser for the flash.

IMG_2467.JPG
 

Dry Desert

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
513
Thanks for the suggestions. Right now I have the Oshiro 60mm f/2.8 2:1 LD UNC Ultra-Macro Lens plus that Raynox DCR-250 I mentioned. I also have a Opteka Pro E-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Flash and an articulating arm or a extra tripod I can use but I have no real experience using them yet. I have never had any success shooting macro hand held but maybe the flash will help fix the problems I usually have with shooting hand held? I have shot macro of insects outdoors handheld with some success and I am sure it's because of the high light levels. I really need to both practice using my new equipment and better understanding what camera settings to use and how to use the off camera flash. I also have a small daylight LED and a softbox diffuser for the flash.

View attachment 300020
For decent hand held macro with camera to subject distance you need to be 100 mm or above. Sigma make excellent macro lens, there is the 105 mm 2.8 or if money no problem then the 150mm 2.8 is all you will ever need. With the 150 lens weight may be a problem for hand holding for any length of time. The 105 is the best choice for field work and also makes an excellent portrait lens. With any decent macro lens and using a ring flash or off camera synced flash you should be good to go. The ring flash is better for even lighting indoors.
 

CJJon

Arachnokrólewicz
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
544
Thanks for the suggestions. Right now I have the Oshiro 60mm f/2.8 2:1 LD UNC Ultra-Macro Lens plus that Raynox DCR-250 I mentioned. I also have a Opteka Pro E-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Flash and an articulating arm or a extra tripod I can use but I have no real experience using them yet. I have never had any success shooting macro hand held but maybe the flash will help fix the problems I usually have with shooting hand held? I have shot macro of insects outdoors handheld with some success and I am sure it's because of the high light levels. I really need to both practice using my new equipment and better understanding what camera settings to use and how to use the off camera flash. I also have a small daylight LED and a softbox diffuser for the flash.
You need to practice and use good technique for handheld stacking. Everything from stance, camera grip, angle of your DoF, to breathing is important. Best would be continuous lighting, small aperture, fast shutter (at least 1.5X f/L), and set your camera to continuous shutter (I shoot at 9 fps). Shooting at 9 fps with most flashes isn't going to happen though. With flash you try and get as many shots as you can varying the DoF slightly each time and hope you get enough to cover the subject when you sort through them in post. I have the Nikon RiCi ring flash system with a few more SB-R200 units that I can handhold or set off axis. The system is wireless, so I can put the flashes anywhere. Great for sticking behind a leaf or branch in the field. The refresh for the flash is about 5 seconds. Sometimes I might get 10 keepers out of 30-50 shots. Sometimes that is enough for a decent stack.

That lens is most likely a Chinese fake of a Chinese Laowa 60mm, BTW. A better lens with good IS would also be something you would very much enjoy!

For decent hand held macro with camera to subject distance you need to be 100 mm or above. Sigma make excellent macro lens, there is the 105 mm 2.8 or if money no problem then the 150mm 2.8 is all you will ever need. With the 150 lens weight may be a problem for hand holding for any length of time. The 105 is the best choice for field work and also makes an excellent portrait lens. With any decent macro lens and using a ring flash or off camera synced flash you should be good to go. The ring flash is better for even lighting indoors.
All excellent advice. I have the Sigma 150 and it is my go-to lens. Best $750 you could spend if you buy used.

I also have the 105, a Nikon 200mm f/4, Nikon 60mm f/2.8 Laowa 25mm f/2.6 5X, all excellent lenses for what I use them for. The 200mm is just sublime, but I pick up the Sigma 150 more often than not. The image stabilization is great to have.
 

CJJon

Arachnokrólewicz
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
544
BTW, you can get interesting macro one-shot images. f/7.1 1/80 sec 200mm. (but a few more would make a great stack)


 

MikeyD

Arachnosquire
Joined
Feb 3, 2017
Messages
136
Excellent suggestions. Thanks for the help. I probably should have opted for a better quality macro lens but even that one felt like a nice jump up from the terrible diopter lenses I had from years ago. I had to get a new camera body after more than a decade of use from my first Canon DSLR so opted to spend the majority of my budget on that at the time vs adding a good quality lens too. For the future I suppose. I will have to start practicing more and taking into consideration the tips provided. Thank you both for sharing your experience and knowledge.
 

EtienneN

Arachno-enigma
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Jul 15, 2017
Messages
990
What are your thoughts on macro lenses for iPhones?
 

EtienneN

Arachno-enigma
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Jul 15, 2017
Messages
990
iPhones are phones Macro lens are for SLR / MEDIUM FORMAT Cameras.
Well, yes, but I'm talking about external iPhone lenses like the ones by SANDMARC. I ask because I'd like to be able to take better pictures but don't want to spend four figures on a DSLR HDR Camera.
 

CJJon

Arachnokrólewicz
Arachnosupporter +
Joined
Oct 28, 2018
Messages
544
Well, yes, but I'm talking about external iPhone lenses like the ones by SANDMARC. I ask because I'd like to be able to take better pictures but don't want to spend four figures on a DSLR HDR Camera.
They are what they are...mostly junk. There is a reason some spend 5 figures on a lens.
 

Dry Desert

Arachnobaron
Active Member
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
513
Well, yes, but I'm talking about external iPhone lenses like the ones by SANDMARC. I ask because I'd like to be able to take better pictures but don't want to spend four figures on a DSLR HDR Camera.
You don't need to spend 4 or 5 figure sums - a camera is a black box - analogue or digital, the quality of the picture comes from the quality of the lens. Professional photographers are seen using top end equipment because in a lot of cases it's supplied by the paper they work for, others use top end gear because their publishers demand it. Buy a mid range 16 -20 mexapixel camera and spend your money on GOOD lenses A 105mm macro doubles as a very good portrait lens. I personally wouldn't try to make a " silk purse from a pig's ear ".
 

laservet

Arachnosquire
Joined
Apr 19, 2018
Messages
50
Canon’s non-L 100 mm f2.8 macro lens is very, very sharp. Doesn’t have image stabilization but that isn’t important with proper lighting.
 
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