Memos from Bugshot 2012

Silver Argiope (Argiope argentata)

After realizing how much I was hearing this year I had heard last year in St. Louis and forgotten, I decided to write a few things down.


Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Get low.

Use a polarizing filter to get rich colors in landscape photography.


Some ants have stingers, not just fangs.

Toads have been recategorized. There are no more Bufos left in North America!

Butterflies aren’t even a clade. They’re just different families of moths that have evolved along similar lines.


The Tamron 11-18mm wide angle zoom has good close focus for insect shots, 1:8 maximum magnification, possibly more with extension tubes. There may well be other wide angle zooms that do equally well. Perhaps the 17-40L?

The difference between a wide and long shot, in the picture itself, is perspective and foreshortening.


Try reversing a cheap 28mm lens, possibly with extension tubes, for high magnification on a budget. (Not as easy to use as an MP-65 though.)

Kenko extension tubes are pretty good. Buy a set.

Try using about 50mm of extension on the 100mm macro lens (though this only works for greater than 1:1, and closer than the usual minimum focusing distance). I.e. it actively prevents you from shooting butterflies, dragonflies, and other large, fast insects. This may work better on a full frame camera since the larger sensor can image a larger insect.


Set flash to manual, not TTL/ETTL when using full flash and manual mode on the camera. Start at 1/8 power and adjust to taste.

Try moving the flash off camera. In particular get a cheap $30 Cowboy Studio radio receiver. You don’t need the fancy pocket wizard because for macro photography you don’t need to adjust the flash on the remote.

The numbers on flash units are guide numbers. For macro work a 430 EX is plenty. You don’t need the 580 EX II or 600 EX for macro work.

Use Vellum/Mylar (which you can get at art supply stores) or a cut-up bleach bottle to build simple diffusers.

Not all batteries are created equal. Lithium-Ion batteries cost more but last longer. In particular they last about as long as the same number of regular batteries you could buy for the same price.


Lightroom supports hierarchical processing.


For tripod work, consider the large Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ballhead.


Get a customs form listing all the serial numbers of your equipment before leaving the country to avoid problems on reentry.

Get a Moose Peterson MP-1 bag for use when travelling on regional jets.

The Weather Channel is not a reliable source of information about airline cancellation/reschedule policies.

Still to Come

Thoughts on equipment, specifically the Sigma 180 f/2.8 OS Macro, the Canon MP-65, and the Canon Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX.

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