Insect Macro Photography – Wireless Flash

Hi my name is Robin Wong. I want to
invite you to come with me to do insect macro photography! I will share as much
as I can in this video so let’s have some fun!! Before we start I want to
remind everyone to be respectful of nature. Be respectful to flora and fauna.
Try not to do unnecessary damage, don’t break the branches, don’t plug the leaves
don’t DON’T touch the insects, don’t move them, don’t interfere with their lives,
this is their home, this is their habitat. Please be respectful to all the insects
and everything you’ve found in the jungle. My technical execution is very simple, I
hold the camera in one hand and a flash with the other. I will place the light
slowly above the head of the insect, a little bit to the side just like how you
would do a studio photography. The reason why I use the wireless flash technique
is because insects or bugs will not stay on top of the leaf directly under bright hot sun,
willingly pose and wait for you, alright! Just like human beings when it’s too hot
they will find somewhere cool to hide. Usually under heavy shade, sometimes beneath the leave, sometimes deep into the bushes so these are the places where
on-camera flash is difficult to reach! By taking the flash off the camera I can
control the direction of my light. I can bring the light everywhere I want to and
there’s the reason why to me wireless flash is important for macro photography.
For this demonstration I’m using my camera the OlympusOM-D E-M1 Mark II with
the clip-on flash attach the FL-LM3. That’s quite a mouthful. I also have the
Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 macro lens. The external flash that I use is the Olympus
FL-50R. I know that this is an outdated model but I’ve been using this
flash for more than 10 years now and it has not failed me. I’ve done so many
commercial jobs and personal shoots with this
flash. Now I attach the Gamilight square mini softbox.
I doesn’t have to be any brand, any softbox or you can even DIY your own
diffuser right that’s half of the fun of doing inside macro. I generally keep my
camera settings simple and straightforward, the shutter speed is
between 1/100 to 1/250 depending on how much ambient light
I want to collect. The aperture is about F5.6 to F13, the smaller the subject is
the closer I move to the insect or bug, the bigger the f-number will have to be
to achieve sufficient depth of field, meaning that I want as much as possible
to be in focus. I maintain my ISO at ISO 200 all the time mainly because this is the
base ISO for the E-M1 Mark II and I prioritize dynamic range in my shots
since I will be using flash for all my insect macro shooting. How to activate the
wireless flash? Go to menu camera menu 2, find the RC move down there, turn it on
right once it’s on you have this RC icon at the top of your screen. Press “OK”
button to get to the menu and make sure that the groups and the channels on the
camera is the same as it is on the flash. On the external flash make sure that you
have the correct mode, cycle it to the RC mode and make sure that the channel and
the groupings are similar to the ones displayed on the camera. Now that we are
ready let’s attack some bugs! Let’s start with this spider here hiding behind
the leaf. I need to hold the camera steady, it is actually easier than I
thought since we have the powerful 5 AXIS image stabilization, so it’s not too
difficult. Always always review the shots after
each take just to make sure that everything is in focus.
Check for critical focus even if it’s slightly miss you can always retake the
shot all right. We have another spider here posing nicely on top of a leaf.
Okay let’s go in. Notice the angle of where I place my light, it is always
above the subject, slightly angled to the side right there is to simulate where
the light of the Sun was coming from. Now we have this tiny red spider who is
missing some legs! OUCH! That looks pretty cool. This is
perhaps the tiniest thing I have encountered today. Look at the size of my
finger at the back it’s crazy, so tiny. So I’m actually utilizing the maximum
magnification of this lens, to be honest it’s not easy shooting at such large
magnification and I do need to go to F 13. Yeah some folks are complaining about
diffraction and loss of sharpness but honestly who cares look at the details
everything is still intact right, and I like the patterns of the web the spider
is on. Okay let’s look through all the photographs I have taken today! That’s all I have for today I hope you
have found my insect macro photography sharing useful. If you have your own tips
or if you have your own techniques you want to share I would love to hear from
you, please share in the comments below. If you want to see more videos like this
of me doing photography tutorials or sharing my tips and techniques on doing
certain things please let me know in the comments below as well. It has been fun I
hope you pick up insect macro photography, if you have not and always
remember to go out and take photographs and have fun! Thank you so much

Comments 19

  • A fun fact – this video is an expansion, or a spin-off from the original macro photography video done by my friend from Finland, Matti Sulanto. You can go and view the original video done by Matti about a year ago here:
    And yes, I made a guest appearance in that video too, sharing briefly the same wireless flash off camera technique for macro shooting as demonstrated in this video.

  • Great video and great photos as usual. I wish we can do macro together some day soonπŸ˜€

  • Great video Robin. You must have an amazing area where so many bugs reside! My woods here in Pennsylvania, USA does not compare at all. I’m not afraid of bugs, just don’t have any so easily found. Thanks for the tips. BTW, I too still use my FL50 flash with great results too!

  • Enjoyed that. Respecting the insects and their environment, is so important. The practices that are being used by certain photographers is shocking, and their reasoning, even worse.

  • Thanks Robin! Very well-timed video for me, I just started spending serious time with my OIy 60mm macro lens and I'm really enjoying shooting insects! I think I need to look into getting an RC-fired flash unit, so far I've just been sticking to bright sunlight scenes…

  • Amazing photos Mr. Wong! Thanks for the nice tips! πŸ‘

  • Thank you a lot for this! Amazing work and tips! Thank you!

  • Hi robin,can i use rc with Olympus FL-36R? I'm using EM1

  • Very nicely put together video !

  • Robin, great video. You make this look so easy :). You got some great shots with this video. I am looking forward to trying some of these techniques out.

  • Wonderful video. really liked watching it.
    Keep going .I follow your channel.
    I would be really thankful for it when you sub back please πŸ™ πŸ™‚ ❀&✌

  • Love seeing you in video, helps to see your techniques in action

  • Robin, I've been religiously following your blog ever since I switched to OMD system 4 yrs ago. It's very pleasant to see you on video with the very tips I need for great insect photo shoot. Awesome tips!

  • Robin nice shooting your straps where you get them

  • great pics for handheld Macro Photography, I normally try to use focus stacking with my E-M1 ii which gives you bit more depth of field and you can use f 4 or even f 2.8. But then you need a tripod which is not always possible of course and it will not work with the flash.

  • Robin what setting do you use on the 60mm 1:1 or one of the others

  • Hi, Robin. I use omd em10mkii, 60mm macro lens & a godox tt685o and when I shoot flies, it's always appear moire on the eyes. How I can avoid this?

  • Thanks for the excellent video Robin!

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