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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby employs compact flash units to light an outdoor environmental portrait of a beekeeper and his bees. For the portrait, David balances the light from two strobes with late-afternoon sunshine, using a snap-on grid to focus the light from one strobe and adjusting his camera's white balance to add warmth to shade-lit skin tones.
Next, David addresses a more challenging subject: a humming hive of honeybees. Working quickly for obvious reasons, David uses his camera's automatic, through-the-lens (TTL) flash-exposure mode along with a ring-light adaptor for the strobe. The course concludes with some insights on David's approach to lighting and his choice of subject matter.
Okay. So here we are with our very tight bees. And I've got 'em drawn in a little hive there. I know you're impressed with my art skills. I'm entirely, I'm entirely self taught. so this is the key for this picture. every picture has a key to it. It might be. My ambient light level is so high that, that I feel like I need to start at a 250th of a second to give me the most flash friendly aperture that I can hit or the key might be that I need to choose a certain aperture for depth of field. Here's the key to this picture, just a couple inches from my face, there are going to be lots and lots of stingers. So that's going to drive every decision that I make downstream. And the first thing that's going to cause me to do is that's going to cause me to shoot in TTL because I don't want to take any test shots. I want to lean right in there and get a picture that's fairly close. I can tweak it if I have to in post production afterwards. But I don't think I'm going to have to because this is, this is a subject that's fairly homogenous in tone and it's pretty close to medium gray. So, this is the kind of thing that TTL is really going to like. My light source here is going to be a a enormous ring clash adaptor that I've got an SB800 stuck into and it's going to be stuck in there on TTL and I'm going to control that on TTL for my camera by, by sticking a an off camera TTL cord in this case an icon SC-17.
It's an old cord that we can get for 10 bucks on eBay, and its very useful whether you are working on TTL or not, and this exposure is completely going to overpower the sunlight. I am shooting at 250th of the second and I got my aperture closed down so there's going to be no ambient component at all. I'm just going to lean in there, pop this flash a couple times, and get out, and hope I don't make a bunch of bees mad. my problem is, I don't know if I'm going to make them mad if I lean in a couple inches from them. I don't know if my flash is going to make them mad when it goes off.
So I want to minimize all of my odds for setting off like 20 or 30 bees coming after me and chasing me down the hill, because I don't run so fast anymore. So the trick with this is I don't even want to have my hands moving, I don't want to have the lenses focusing. I just want to bend in there, snap, snap, snap, look at the back and get out and be done and let's put the bees back. So what I'll do is I'll make a test shot and I'll come in and focus on something very close, test that the TTL is working. And then I would just lean down slowly until the bees come into focus as I'm leaning down with that old Macro lens.
Grab a few shots and then back out and hopefully we don't make them mad. So here's the picture, and there's one thing that's kind of interesting going on here, and they didn't know this. The beekeepers didn't know this until I shared my picture with them. But if you look at that bee in that upper right that, that on that last bee that you can see all of it, it's kind of facing horizontally into the frame. There's a, there's a red spot right on it's abdomen right by that bottom wing. So, right where the abdomen is coming into thorax. That red spot is actually a red varroa mite.
This is something that they were able to find out by looking at my ultra, you know, close macro pictures. That they could tell this bee colony was infested by the red varroa mite, which is becoming an increasing problem, along with lots of other problems that bees are facing. And in this instance our main problem they're facing was literally a county zoning issue which is one of the reasons that I was covering it for my local blog. This kind of stuff is really interesting. This downstream sort of a thing. How can, how can your pictures help elevate an issue in your community? Or in this case, how can they help people understand what they're doing better? So this is a very concrete example of that.
And something that always makes me happy to be able to contribute.
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