This will be my last post about tobacco hornworms for a while, I promise!
My last blog (White box photography of tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta): Part 2) featured photos of these caterpillars taken with a green background in an attempt to produce a more natural looking image. The focus of that post was a discussion of the different steps I took using Photoshop Elements to alter and improve the background of the photos. But as you can see from the images above and below, not all of the pictures I took during that shoot needed to have the background edited. Higher magnification photos (taken closer to the subject) threw the background more out of focus so that the texture of the green foam core was not visible (this was the problem I noted in my last post). Clearly this technique works very well—producing nicely lit pictures that have a nice smooth green and somewhat more natural look. The stick helps to reinforce the natural appearance
I tried one more technique: I placed a dead leaf from the garden on the floor of the white box and took more photos of the caterpillar as it crawled around on the leaf. This is a very common way to photograph a tiny animal with a natural background. Examples of the results are shown below.
To be honest, I like these last images the best of all. I really like the obviously natural background provided by the leaf. Mind you, I probably have a bias toward these shots as I have used this technique so much in the past.
The bottom line is that with very little effort, and a little creativity, a white box can be used to produce very nice photos of small critters with a pure white, coloured, or natural background. I expect to be using the white box for a lot of my photography in the coming months as I wait for the spring and the opportunity to take my camera equipment back out into the field.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F16 @ 1/125 sec)
Lighting: Vivitar 283 flash and VP-1 Vari-power adapter (1/8 power)