• Ultraviolet Photography
  •  

How Not To Kill Insects With Flash

Infrared Insect Vision UV Lighting
12 replies to this topic

#1 StephanN

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 241 posts
  • Location: Austria

Posted 15 March 2021 - 06:40

With the increase of more sensitive sensors, the question of taking photos of living insects has slowly wormed its way into my mind, and triggered by Stefano's thread (https://www.ultravio...-on-dandelions/ ), I'd like to ask the question of how to take UV-photos of bungs, flies, bees, etc., and not hurt them. This, of course, under the assumption of using some sort of light source in addition to the sun.

In my case, I'm thinking of the Yongnuo YN560-III flashgun with the protective cover removed, turning it into a full-spectrum light-source. I don't know exactly how full its spectrum is, but there's plenty of UV in it. In order to keep ISO not too high, I had to usually use it at half-power or higher when taking photos of plants.

I remember reading about this in an older topic somewhere here (can't find it now), with the suggestion of using flash once on an insect ought to be ok. On other sites I've read that using a flash directly on the eyes of a butterfly might easily blind it (that was about VIS-flash, but full spectrum will be even worse, I guess). I wouldn't want to blind an insect just to get a photo of it.

So, how are the other members here handling this? Is there some reliable data of how much light (in candela or any other unit) is acceptable?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.photo-cha...om/?page_id=279

#2 nfoto

    Former Fierce Bear of the North

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 3,152 posts
  • Location: Sørumsand, Norway

Posted 15 March 2021 - 08:36

I just pop the flash to get the shot .... Most creatures in this situation apparently don't respond at all.

Posted Image


This was done with the Nikon SB-140 flash, by the way,

#3 enricosavazzi

    Member

  • Members
  • 593 posts
  • Location: Borgholm, Sweden

Posted 15 March 2021 - 12:13

I believe insect eyes are much more resilient than we may think. After all, insects do not have eyelids to protect their eyes from light, and in most insects their composite eyes cover a wide angle of view both horizontally and vertically, which means that on a sunny day parts of the retina are exposed to direct sunlight (including UVA and the little UVB that passes through the atmosphere) more or less continuously for hours on end, apparently with no risk of blinding. Our own retinas would go permanently blind in a matter of minutes if exposed to sunlight in the same way.

That said, flash illumination may be too fast to allow insect eyes to adjust, which may change things.
-- Enrico Savazzi

#4 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 8,683 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 15 March 2021 - 21:28

I have stopped flashing insects. It just upset me to think I might fry a bee or blind a spider.

It is best to make your UV insect photos outdoors in strong sunlight in the summer. Then you know the creatures will be safe. Of course, outdoor UV photography of living creatures has several challenges! You need good UV gear -- a dedicated UV lens or *very* UV-capable lens, a converted camera with *very* good high-ISO, a fast filter like the BaaderU. And you need an infinitude of patience for dealing with the 100 blurred shots before you finally grab that one good one of a fast moving bee.

I have definitely killed flowers by repeated UV flashes. And sometimes they did not wilt or die until some hours after the photo session.

Usually we all try a few UV-flash insect photos and then give it up. Try not to flash the bug more than once and not too close, OK?
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#5 WiSi-Testpilot

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 105 posts
  • Location: Germany

Posted 16 March 2021 - 12:36

My images were made with daylight, for example. I did it as Andrea described it and then always varied the distance a bit, because there is no time to focus.
Best regards,
Wilhelm

Attached Image: Biene_DSC06083m.jpg

Attached Image: Biene_DSC06087m.jpg

#6 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 8,683 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 17 March 2021 - 19:58

Set up a pre-focus where the bees have been seen to land on the flower.
Then silently and patiently entreat the bees to land there again. :lol: :bee: :bee: :bee:

I was just thinking that if you are outdoors in good sunlight, then you can use the UV flash on a lower power to provide some fill and risk less harm to the bees?


Also a tripod, remote shutter and burst mode help this effort.
I think that when burst mode is used it is called "Spray and Pray".
But I'll tell you that I myself am quite fond of that mode of shooting when trying to capture butterflies and flying insects -- especially in UV mode.

Added: Also try manual mode with a high speed setting backed up with auto-ISO. That will add a bit more to the likelihood of getting the shot.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#7 StephanN

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 241 posts
  • Location: Austria

Posted 18 March 2021 - 08:05

View PostAndrea B., on 17 March 2021 - 19:58, said:

I was just thinking that if you are outdoors in good sunlight, then you can use the UV flash on a lower power to provide some fill and risk less harm to the bees?

Spray and Pray

Found this on the web: https://www.photo.ne...for-them.66389/ , no definite conclusion either way, but they also assume that adding some flash during bright daylight shouldn't do any harm.

Was thinking that spray and pray is the usual way for insect photos, I've always used it :grin:

Possibly I can get some shots with my b/w-modified camera, as the sensitivity for UV ought to be higher than with colour versions. I just need to be more daring and go to higher ISO; my 6D allows 25600, so far I've tried to stick to 1600 and lower, but a grainy photo is better than no photo, right?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.photo-cha...om/?page_id=279

#8 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 8,683 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 18 March 2021 - 22:43

I was just thinking also that it is a good idea to practice first with visible light.

Experimentation is the order of the day to determine how high the ISO can be set on that Canon before the noise becomes objectionable. On Nikons and Sonys one can usually go to ISO-6400 easily without too much noise. I'm not experienced with Canons so don't know for them.

Don't try to shoot bees at f/16 when just trying this for the first few times. First try f/5.6, for example. ISO-6400 and f/5.6 should give you a fairly fast UV-speed in good sunlight. Also, don't try to get too close.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#9 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 8,683 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 18 March 2021 - 22:49

Added: Another reason for not using flash on insects is that they sometimes react strongly to it by jumping or buzzing away.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#10 StephanN

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 241 posts
  • Location: Austria

Posted 26 March 2021 - 20:24

View PostAndrea B., on 18 March 2021 - 22:49, said:

Added: Another reason for not using flash on insects is that they sometimes react strongly to it by jumping or buzzing away.

So, time for a quick update on this topic. I've taken my Rodenstock-lens out into the garden today, and brought back plenty of photos. I'll show some of them in another thread, but here are a couple of bees.

I've used my usual 6D, b/w internal X330C, plus external S8612, as follows:

camera: f/1.5 (fix), 1/200s, ISO 800
lens: Rodenstock XR-Heligon 100mm f/1.5
lighting: bright sunlight, plus handheld full-spectrum Yongnuo YN560III

I've used the flash on each insect only once and only from some distance, and after the first one moved on without any visible after-effects, I thought it's ok. I did not try going to extreme ISO in order to get rid of the flash, because the Rodenstock is a tricky beast in terms of focussing and I didn't want the sharp bit obscured by noise. I'll perform the ISO-test another time, without insects.

Attached Images

  • Attached Image: 20210326_BG_UV_0037.jpg
  • Attached Image: 20210326_BG_UV_0040.jpg
  • Attached Image: 20210326_BG_UV_0064.jpg

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.photo-cha...om/?page_id=279

#11 StephanN

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 241 posts
  • Location: Austria

Posted 01 April 2021 - 17:35

Well, I tried with sunlight only, same lens and camera, settings ISO 12800, f/1.5, 1/200s.

Since there are literally thousands upon thousands of flowers, the approach of setting up the tripod and waiting was not feasible, so I went hunting for the bees. First I tried with lower shutter speed to also keep ISO lower, but the bees were too fidgety today, so the image quality is not too good, part of which is attributable to the lens and the operator, of course.

Attached Image: 20210401_BG_UV_0006.jpg

Attached Image: 20210401_BG_UV_0011.jpg

Edited by StephanN, 01 April 2021 - 17:35.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.photo-cha...om/?page_id=279

#12 Andrea B.

    Desert Dancer

  • Owner-Administrator
  • 8,683 posts
  • Location: UVP Western Division, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Posted 01 April 2021 - 23:50

I think at this point I would say that a Rodenstock Heligon XR is not the best choice for bees!

As a side comment -- you certainly have a lot of flowers already! We have nothing in bloom currently. I see a few leaf buds on some shrubs and some new perennial leaves just coming out, but that's all.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#13 StephanN

    Member

  • Members(+)
  • 241 posts
  • Location: Austria

Posted 02 April 2021 - 15:32

View PostAndrea B., on 01 April 2021 - 23:50, said:

I think at this point I would say that a Rodenstock Heligon XR is not the best choice for bees!

As a side comment -- you certainly have a lot of flowers already! We have nothing in bloom currently. I see a few leaf buds on some shrubs and some new perennial leaves just coming out, but that's all.

Correct, will try to do some test with my EL-Nikkor. Also am going to try some bee- and bug-vision shots this spring.

Right, the Botanical Gardens crew are very able and industrious. You woudn't want to see the flower pots on my balcony, they're a sorry sight :smile:
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.photo-cha...om/?page_id=279