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My UV Kit: Damon


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#1 Damon

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 00:43

Here is my current setup which has shown itself to be awesome (subjective of course!) and a nice challenge to figure out (thanks Dr. Schmitt for your initial help): in order of attachment from camera
Nikon D70 (Ebay $200)
--M42 screw mount lens to Nikon AI body adapter (Amazon $14)
--M42 Focusing helicoid 16-30mm (well built one from Amazon $75)
--M42 to M39 lens adapter ring, fits inside helicoid (Amazon $5)
--FED All Metal Macro Extension Tubes set of 4 (different widths) with M39 screw mount (ebay from Russia $30)
--El-Nikkor 80mm f5.6 older chrome one (Ebay $75)
--34.5mm to 52mm step up ring ($35)
--Nikon AF-1 filter holder (Ebay $20)
--60mm to 62mm step up ring (Amazon $15)
--62mm to 52mm step down ring (Amazon $8)
--52mm to 48mm step down ring (Amazon $5)
--Baader U filter 2" (Amazon $325) (pink side out--couldn't seem to figure out if that mattered or not--probably not)
--48mm Rubber Lens Hood (Adorama $10)
--Plastic Lens cap to fit hood I had lying around ($0)

Other items:
Wireless remote (Amazon $8)
3 Vivitar 285HV flashes with 3 slave units(Ebay $125)

Grand Total: $942 and submission into a step up/down ring sanitarium

Focuses to infinity and with various tubes focuses pretty darn close as well.

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#2 colinbm

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 01:50

Looking good
Col

#3 msubees

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 01:54

heavy! with 3 flashes you should be able to shoot UV pic in, say, 1/100 sec?

#4 Damon

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 03:07

Zach--you would think so! At f5.6 I could probably get away with that. I will try to see the fastest I can go in full sun tomorrow if it would just stop raining.

#5 nfoto

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 07:37

The aperture setting is what matters the most. With flash (strobe) one can shoot in principle at any shutter speed slower than or up to the sync speed, which is 1/250 sec for the D70 if memory serves.

Many lenses, and in particular those not designed for UV in the first place, perform [much] better when stopped down quite a bit. You can get very good quality with some even down to f/16 or beyond. Haven't tested the EL-Nikkor 80 mm f/5.6 in depth though.

#6 Damon

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 03:11

Thanks for the info. Good to know.
My El-Nikkor has shown to perform best at F8 and next F11. Anything much more than that and
--I don't realize the improvement in depth of field as in the distance I have been shooting (1 to 2 feet) what I need in focus is in focus.
-- I need more light than I have been able to get and have a pic that doesn't require too much brightening with software
Ask me 6 months from now and I may change my tune though as I have only been using it since late April. Another day of rain. Waiting and waiting for the flowers and all it wants to do is rain!

#7 msubees

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 15:32

Damon, I think it is because you are so far away that your flashes are not helping much. I am about 6-12" away from subjects when using the same lens but on Panasonic G5 and a long helocoid.

#8 nfoto

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 16:28

Unfortunately, flash output in the near range isn't always what one would expect. This results because the reflectors may be very inefficient and most of the emitted light go elsewhere. Thus, adding several flash heads might not produce the exposure one would hope for.

I found it helpful to shoot a large piece of a flat subject (newsprint is just fine) while varying the flash-subject distance and keeping everything else fixed. Keep notes about the setup for each frame. That can give food for thought about what flash distance is appropriate given the reflectors you have at hand. For my Broncolor studio flashes, I exchanged their standard reflectors to a wide-angle type as this produced nearly 2 stops more output for the near range, everything else being the same. If I removed the reflector(s) entirely - to shoot in the old-fashioned 'bare-bulb' way - I lost nearly 4 stops .... (for close-up work) but less than 1 stop for portraits as the studio walls would be reflecting and diffusing the flash light in this situation.

For a typical flower close-up in studio, I deploy 2*800 Ws heads (uncoated Xenon tube; wide reflector) at a distance of about 0.8-1m (to avoid heat shock to the subject), angled one 60 the other about 30 degrees to give a fairly flat light field yet with some directional character. This setup gives nice UV exposures (Baader U 2 filter, UV-Nikkor) around f/11 ISO 100 with the flash heads running at 1/2 - 1/4 power. Sometimes I add fill-in light with a third head, moved out to approx. 1 m. For stacking I make the release intervals 2-3 sec to avoid heat build-up and overheating. A breeze with a Stackshot device.

#9 Damon

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 02:31

Zach-you may be on to something there.

Bjorn-I like the sound of that test and it would be easy to do. So my vivitars only have the tiny reflectors kind of behind the little skinny bulb. Are you thinking I could add some kind of additional reflector that would surround the end of the flash and concentrate it more? Do you have pics of your wide angle types? Maybe I could copy the design with foil or some other reflective material. I did get the vivitars thinking the output would be more substantial. It might be partly a distance problem but I have used them up close and it wasn't like "wow". I read about your setup and then envision me shaping tin foil and I start to laugh. BTW, Does a UV light/flash create a shadow? I am having a hard time figuring that out looking at my small bunch of photos.

Thanks,

-D

#10 nfoto

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 07:24

"Does a UV light/flash create a shadow?"

Only indirectly. The light output from the flash is *focused* by the reflector. This also implies there are regions in which the light rays diverge, ie. intensity is lowered. In nature, we observe such an effect when sun light strikes a rippled water surface. On the bottom beneath the surface, bands of high light intensity alternate with darker ones. This is caused by refraction through the water surface. The difference in light intensity between the bright and dark bands can be many orders of magnitude. A flash reflector introduces similar phenomena.

#11 nfoto

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 09:42

"Do you have pics of your wide angle types [reflectors]?"

Here is a comparison of the shapes. The wide-angle type on the left is, against what one would expect, far superior to the standard more narrow reflector shown on the right hand side. NB: this is valid for close-ups only. Your mileage may vary contingent upon the actual layout of the flash tube and the reflector(s) involved. However, the salient point is one should experiment to find the best distance (and shape of reflectors) to give maximum light intensity in the subject plane. There is no such thing as "too much" light in the world of UV photography and even were it true, you can always cut back on output power ....

I moved the flashes closer to the subject than normal to make this photo.

Attached Image: _UV_U1105095233.jpg

#12 Damon

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 23:31

Interesting explanation about the shadow--thanks.

Those are some serious flashes! Wow. Have you found a certain color background works best?
I think I can make or find something the shape of the one on the left. Is it a typical shiny bright mirror like surface? I appreciate the example and that will help me make more progress.

I set up a test like you said and found that, like Zach has theorized, I was too far away from my subjects. So I took a local flower called Goats Rue and moved my flashes within 7 to 8 inches and viola! The flower was also in the sun, and I was able to get acceptable pics at very high shutter speeds--all the way up to 1250/s (maybe higher?).
I have attached a pic at 1000/s, f8, iso 200

The brackets on my rig are not long enough if the flower is a big one. I need to be back a foot or more to even fit it in the frame, and that's without any tubes. I think I need another set of arms on it. although it is pretty bulky as it is. I have also attached a simple device that holds my teflon piece and can be bent in any direction. So I make it so that's in the very bottom corner of the frame and can be cropped out but can be used for White Balance. This way I never forget to use it. Although to be honest, photo ninja seems to white balance stuff almost identical whether or not I use the teflon (but I use it :lol: ).

-D

Attached Images

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  • Attached Image: Teflon Rig DNoe.jpg
  • Attached Image: Teflon Rig2 DNoe.jpg


#13 nfoto

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 23:38

I don't understand why you would set shutter speed beyond than the fastest synchronisation time. Depending on the camera model, you either get a part of the frame blackened, or at best lose a lot of the actual output power.

#14 Damon

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 02:49

I was thinking that if I could get a faster shutter speed then I would not have to worry about the wind so much. Shooting at 1/500s would minimize the potential for blur. The D70 has a sync of 1/500 with a dedicated flash. But apparently with a non dedicated flash like the vivitars, it appears to sync at any speed. That is intriguing in itself.
I took ~ 7 frames starting with 1/250 up to 1/1250 and what you are saying I see in the images. They got darker and the edges kept getting darker. I won't be shooting above 1/500s for sure but was just experimenting on how to avoid waiting for 15 minutes for the wind to die down every time I go to take a UV pic. If this works @500/s and the background is fine I will just do that or a little less maybe 1/100 or 1/250. I don't necessarily mind the black background. The flower is my subject of interest. Do you think it is no good to have a dark background?

-D

#15 nfoto

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 07:55

Probably meaning D70 uses an electronic shutter, instead of a moving curtain, for the faster speeds. That will not change the fact that a shutter speed faster than the synch speed takes away the precious UV light from your flash.

If the flash light dominates the exposure, the shutter speed itself means little in terms of image sharpness as long as the ambient light contributes negligible. You'll get a dark background which in photographic terms is dull and non-inspirational. However, the dark background has the potential to increase subject clarity *if* you ensure the edges of the subject receives light as well. Otherwise the edge details will bleed into the darkness and clarity actually is lost. This is why a single flash unit is a problem unless you can have fill-in light from the background itself. To achieve this objective, you need a slower not a faster shutter speed to allow background to come forward (in lighting terms).

#16 msubees

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Posted 15 June 2014 - 13:17

Damon,

it is great that now your flash will help your shorter exposures! I was in garden yesterday and most shots longer than 1" were no good. I need some flashes....

Bjorn is right: if your flash contributes mainly to the shots, then you do not need to worry about shutter speed that much. I would say even 1/100 will work if without flash it takes 2".

what is the "slave" unit on your vivitar called? it responds to the main flash and fires? if I get 2 Canon 199A, i may need one also.

Edited by msubees, 15 June 2014 - 13:18.


#17 Damon

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 01:46

Re: that will not change the fact--I think you are right there except that in my case the shutter speed is not faster then the sync speed. But the end result is the same I guess--less UV getting to my subject. I am going to have to compromise I suppose. The Goats Rue I took has clear edges. Just so I have a clear sense of things. Do you think my Goats Rue pic would be ok?

#18 Andrea B.

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Posted 16 June 2014 - 02:00

Yes, your Goat's Rue photo is good.

A dark background is a matter of artistic taste. Bjørn sometimes dislikes them. I sometimes like them and think they look dramatic. Everyone will have their own opinion on this.

For documentation of a floral UV signature, we simply do the best we can. The flower must be well-lit in UV, of course. The background lighting will vary depending on ambient sunlight conditions if outdoors, strength of your UV flash either indoors or outdoors or possibly on other factors.

Shooting a UV floral signature in-situ requires the patience of the saints -- and then some. I've sat for what can seem like hours (and may have been?) waiting for a break in the breezes. Sometimes I've anchored a flower under a camera strap or used wire flower stakes to hold it still. Some folks make use of "plamps" or other clamps around the flower stem. (Those supposedly work best if used near the head of a larger flower. I gave up on them myself.) Meanwhile, as you wait, the sun advances and soon your flower is in the shade again and you have to move the rig and start over. Or sometimes your flower turns with the sun while you are trying to shoot it and you lose the desired angle. Sigh. And so it goes....

Recently a rare flower needed to be UV-photographed on a rainy day. That didn't go well I can tell you for sure. Turns out that as rain drops roll down off a flower, it bounces up and around. Those pesky laws of motion. So I would try to shake some rain off and place an umbrella in just such a way as to try to keep more rain from falling on the flower but still permit some dim, dull overcast light to help the UV flash. Did I mention that this flower was in a cemetery and I'm crawling around on the soggy ground trying to stay off of wet graves? Again, so it goes.....

The thing which has helped me most to gain short UV exposure speeds is the Nikon D600's capability at high ISO. When you can shoot at ISO 800-1600 without fear of too much noise, then life in the UV lane is much easier. That said, I do try to keep ISO as low as I can.
Andrea G. Blum
Often found hanging out with flowers & bees.

#19 Damon

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 01:58

Zach--no more 1" sec exposures for me :D . If there is zero wind I may use a longer exposure though--soak in some natural UV. Thinking about what Bjorn and Andrea said, I probably don't want all my pics to have a black background. Variety in my methods/pics is good. Just like with visible photos.
Although I still wonder if they are being taken for the UV signatures, is it not best to mainly highlight them? I will gauge it as it comes or see how many times Bjorn comments about the background :) .
Vivitar SL-2 is the slave. I got 4 of them so I may be able to add 2 more flashes to my rig. :P

Andrea--I am not happy that you had to sit around so long like that but a little happy that someone shares my pain. It sounds like you have run the gamut on what can happen while you wait and struggle to get an image. If your flower has moved with the sun while you were trying to take it--man that is some patience...
Funny cemetery story. Also funny because just last week I noticed my local cemetery here in Batsto was loaded with new flowers and I kept going back in forth in my mind if it would be okay to lay around near them stones for a few hours and take some pics. I wasn't worried about the creep factor so much as people upset about me lying there. So I never did it. Flowers with a headstone background in UV may look surreal though. Maybe I will try it.

I noticed the raindrops on my Gazanias did not look good in UV. They left spots.
Alas, the D70 above 400/500 is beginning to push it. But my flashes may save me.

-D

#20 Damon

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Posted 17 June 2014 - 02:00

Zach--yes both my slaves respond to the one on top of the camera and fire all at the same time (well, as far as I can tell at they all fire at the same time).