View Full Version : 9am, 4pm. A study in backlighting.

Reef Bass
10/20/2013, 10:00 PM
Same spider. Same web. 9am versus 4pm (4 or 5 days later).

9am. ISO 2500. No noise reduction.
http://i282.photobucket.com/albums/kk247/KenBull/Misc%20RC%20posts/Spider9am_zps5d98c654.jpg (http://s282.photobucket.com/user/KenBull/media/Misc%20RC%20posts/Spider9am_zps5d98c654.jpg.html)

4pm 5 days later. ISO 1000, no noise reduction.
http://i282.photobucket.com/albums/kk247/KenBull/Misc%20RC%20posts/Spider_zps991acb14.jpg (http://s282.photobucket.com/user/KenBull/media/Misc%20RC%20posts/Spider_zps991acb14.jpg.html)

The backlit shot is much more dramatic, IMHO.

10/21/2013, 05:39 AM
I agree. Its the highlighted web and dark, mottled bokeh that does it. Cool critter!

10/21/2013, 06:29 AM
I like the first shot better. The in focus part of the shot (head and central abdomen) is sharp and exposed well, in the backlight shot the in focus area (again the head and central abdomen) is too dark. The legs and they way they are lighted are cool in the second shot, but they are out of focus, and my eye is drawn to that. Both have great bokeh and great detail (again, the detail in the spider is better in the first shot). Maybe my opinion would be different if you pumped up the shadows in the second shot in post? Regardless, cool spider.

Reef Bass
10/21/2013, 07:17 AM
Good comments, thanks.

Shot wise, the second was rather difficult. The web is roughly 5' across and the wind would blow the spider in and out several inches. At times I was worried the wind would blow the spider onto my lens as it was quite close (6-7" away with no wind). With the motion focusing on the head was challenging and took many exposures before finally getting something even close. I also tried setting the focal plane in a variety of positions considering the wind, and big surprise, only those with the head area in rough focus felt right.

For me, this was a look at light in general and how strong backlighting can impact an image in specific. The first shot is in a soft shaded morning light, and the other way more harsh direct afternoon sun. The softer light is very pleasing to me, but for drama, I do like the highlighting of the web and leg hairs of the backlit shot, although being in a different plane from the head of the spider the legs and their hairs are not in focus.

I asked the spider to move to the other side of its web, so I could shoot it top down instead of belly up, but it wanted unreasonable modeling fees so I had to shoot it as it lay. Shooting the belly of the spider the underside is not as recognizable and eyes are not visible.

Lightwise, as jroovers points out, what the backlit shot is missing is a pop of front flash to properly illuminate the underside of the spider. I'm getting why Jesse uses his a lot in his bug shots.

10/21/2013, 07:32 AM
Sounds like a tricky shot. The flash might be a good idea - I've seen some interesting contraptions in terms of flash set-ups for macros - obviously they help tremendously - but I don't know anything about them. I haven't had much luck with getting decent backlit photos - I agree with you though, if you nail it, they can be very dramatic. The only way to figure it out is to get out there an shoot - looks like you are heading down that path!

10/21/2013, 06:45 PM
I'm getting why Jesse uses his a lot in his bug shots.

That's part of it. The one thing I don't like about the second image is how harsh it is. Throwing some light from the front will tone it down some, but some will still be there. It's like there is too much contrast. That being said, you can work with it a little. On the first one, the light is really good. I would make a few more adjustments personally, but there is no harshness or blown edges. Something else to realize is I rarely take my camera over 200 ISO. My present camera gets really noisey above 800, but I notice it when working on images above 400.

Now after saying all that, a flash could have been used in both. On the first one, you could have lowered the ISO which doesn't matter for you, but I want others reading to understand. You also could have closed the ap, (higher number), to get a better DOF. On the second, it would, as you say, illuminate the underside. It will also help tone down the edges and keep some of the harshness out.

Reef Bass
10/22/2013, 07:30 AM
I hear the harsh thing. No doubt. However, for me that contributes to the energy of the pic. The backlighting is strong, the spider is gnarly, the web is arguably over lit and tattered. Not saying it's a great pic, but that the harsher light and contrast contribute to my experience of the image.

The first shot is so much calmer and easy to look out imho due to the subdued lighting. It was one of the first shots with my new back and I was shocked at how low noise the higher isos are. Normally I'm an iso 100 guy with a tripod and still subjects.

Yes, a lower ISO on shot 1 would be pretty much mandatory from a noise perspective with a crop sensor.

Your suggestions for shot two are spot on. A smaller aperture would have given me more depth of field. I believe I shot this at f10. And some flash would mellow the edges and provide more visual interest in the spider's "abs". ;)

Thanks for your comments.