This blog is devoted to the application of optical fibers in photography. I have several homemade (DIY) flash adapters channeling the light from the flash close to the lens. The technique can be used mainly for macro photography, but I will show examples for wide angle close focus techniques as well. The recent version is called fiberstrobe V3, hence the name of the blog is "fiberstrobe".

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Spring Snowflakes

Last weekend we had a fantastic weather, so I jumped on my bike to spend few hours in the nature. The forest was fantastic, as its ground was covered by the white flowers of thousands of spring snowflakes.


To make my rig light I just took a nex-5 with the 16mm lens, the fisheye adapter and the 30mm macro lens.
I also planned to take some specially lit photos, so my versatile twin flash adapter was also with me. Lots of stuff at the end but my camera bag was still not that heavy. Practically this flower was the only worthy subject, so I tried different techniques from panorama, extreme wide angle to macro.


The small camera allowed me to get strange angles using the sky as background. The tilting LCD with focus peeking also help to get the focus correct. Try the same with a DSLR, it won't work. The very short close focus distance of the SEL30F35 was also very helpful.
I used small flags on both arms of the twin flash adapter to prevent light spill to the lens. If you check the photos in larger format you can see some play with the light. You can find the whole series on my flick page (better resolution):
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiberstrobe/sets/72157642377199014/

Cheers

Marcell

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Savoy cabbage

Good light can tranform even ordinary subjects to interesting pictures. Extreme side lighting brings out the details and texture. My wife brought from the market a head of savoy cabbage with beutiful foliage. I couldn't resisit to take some photos.
Sony nex-5+sel30f35 macro lens was used on a tripod. WanSen radio trigger was firing the minolta 5600 HSD flash. The light was formed with a rim light adapter.








Sunday, February 2, 2014

Physalis

One alternative technique to achieve good macro is adding an achromat lens to a short tele or tele-zoom. My 5 dp marumi achromat works quite well on the sel55210 lens at 210 mm. It seems to me that even better than 1:1 can be reached. Few days ago I was waiting for a plumber to fix a leaking tap and he was of course late, so I had a bit of time to kill. I set up my home studio and grabbed few physalis from the kitchen. I think the photos are quite cool. There is a hint of blue color coming from the lens CA enhanced by the add on lens (I guess but I will figure out). Still I like the photos a lot. Lighting was done by a radio triggered external flash with a rim light adapter.




The whole set you can find on my flickr page here.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snowflakes again

This is a subject I have to re-shoot again and again. Especially because I'm still far from perfection. Now I used an acrylic stand and I used the V3 adapter but only one arm with a flag. Bare fibers caused strange reflections. The light was angled in a way to not reach the lens, so only the diffracted lights from the snowflakes crystals reached the sensor. A kind of dark field photography.



In the last photo, you can see the light source.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Black&White


The new radio-trigger is working good and I’ve been experimenting a lot recently. Previously, I was a single flash guy, but now I’m exploring two flash photography and thinking to purchase the third unit. The fiberstrobe adapters allowed me (especially the V3) to use a single flash to achieve complex lightings. For example the effect of the rim light adapter is usually achieved by 2-3 flashes by other photographers. However, one thing I couldn’t really manage was the white background macro photography. I tried it with the V3 adapter but I failed miserably (see my previous blog post).
Therefore, the first thing I tried was the white background macro. A diffuser sheet attached to a frame cut out from a big paper box (left from Christmas delivery boxes) served as the white background and it was lit by a yongnuo flash. A DIY soft-box with the main flash (minolta 5600HSD in manual mode) provided the main light. Actually it was a bit too strong. It was triggered from the WanSen adapter attached to nex-5 on a tripod. Everything was on manual. It was a bit tricky to set the light ratio but after a bit of try and error I achieved the effect I was looking for:




Of course the technique can be used for black background photography but it required some trick. I put the nex on manual mode after setting the focus and using short time the LCD became pitch black. So this will be the exposure for the background. To make the backroung homogenous dark I put a black shirt on a box. I only had to illuminate the subject fit my flash to achieve the effect I wanted. Here I used restricted light mainly by using the V3 adapter with 2 arm snooted and one arm with a flag. The 4th arm was turned away. Sometimes only one snooted light arm was used:

This is the set-up I used. You can see the box with my shirt on the table:


I also tried the rim light adapter with the nex-5:

I'm eagerly waiting for spring the two-flash set-up in the nauture. I still have to find some solution for the portable background. Any good suggestion??

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sony nex ring flash adapter step by step

Although I already have a nice optical fiber based ring flash adapter (see project here) I thought that I will try a simpler alternative solution. The idea popped up in my mind during eating rice pudding. The plastic cup just looked like a perfect core for a ring adapter.


For attaching the adapter to the lens I used my usual solution with a foam layer. So I trimmed back a bit the cup and glued into the foam. After that I cut out the hole for the lens.


 It’s important to block the reflection light slipping back from the cup, therefore I needed an isolation ring surrounding the lens.
 The most difficult part was to channel the light into the cup. I could have used optical fibers but this time I wanted to use something else. Cardboard is an option but I wanted something more flexible. Then I remembered that I have a punctured inner tube from my bicycle I put away for some tinkering project (I wanted to make such DIY speed straps). Although the diameter was to small gluing the rubber seemed to be simple. I covered the inner part with aluminium foil backed tape (the must to have product for all strobe modifier).









After attaching the inner ring (inside covered with black non reflecting thin foam) to the cup I also applied some aluminium tape to cover the resulting channel around the lens.

 I cut a hole into the cup to attach the rubber tube to it. It was a bit tricky to align the tube to the cup and glue it. The light is going through this hole. The problem is that now the light is channelled only to the upper part of the ring and the light distribution is not even. Actually this is the major problem of this kind of ring flash adapter design. See below the light pattern at this stage:



 To improve the light distribution I glued a V-shaped reflector to this part of the inner ring to reflect the light sideways. It’s improved the output  but it was still far from perfect, so I also attached a blocking panel to this upper part (included some small holes to let some light through).




 Better but not yet perfect, so I added a diffuser panel.




It looks almost perfect, but I was cheating a bit by overexposing the photo. Actually some strange thing happened at this stage I guess due to some light reflected back from this diffusor panel, the camera TTL is tended to overexpose the photos. In close macros this reflected light was not a big problem but in case of distant subjects it was visible on the photos.

In addition, the light was still stronger in the upper part of the scene. In landscape format, it’s not a big deal and in real photos it has even a more natural effect (sun is shining high from the sky). However, in case of portrait format the uneven light distribution is visible (see photos above).


I tried to construct a more complex  diffusor panel blocking the light slippage, and I also added some reflecting panel to the upper part:
You may tell that the light in the final version is not that pretty but it’s actually quite even. It’s for macro, therefore the catch light reflected in the eyes is not that important.  


 So this is the final version. It can be folded and put into a small box for transport:


How does it perform? Just perfect. The light output is enough to use the biggest F numbers with your macro lens at base iso. The light distribution is even, just what you would expect from a ring flash:

 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New ring flash adapter for sony nex

I've just finished a new project. It doesn't include any fibers, but it's still a cool hack to share it on my blog. It's another type of ring flash adapter designed specifically for the sel30f35 macro lens (and cost almost nothing but time):


The results are stunning so far. However, I still think that the twin flash adapter is more creative and versatile solution. The ringflash gives you the same effect all the time, which can be boring after a while: