I spent a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon taking some macro shots. The entire time I was bent over the same plant. I took over a hundred pictures and did not keep a single shot. Ouch! Well, sometimes it just doesn't happen.
I arrived at my location with about two hours of shooting time. I quickly found an interesting subject and set up the gear - tripod, light stand and translucent reflector to block direct sun light, second stand for main light, shoot-through umbrella and flash. A few minutes after that I'm making pictures. The first shots look OK but too dark. I jack up the flash power. Still too dark. I push up the flash power again. Nope. Not quite. I check the flash output with a light meter. It shows 1/125th, f/16 @ ISO 200. Perfect. Check the camera settings and retry the shot - still too dark. WTF?!?! I pull the camera off the tripod and check the settings again. They are correct. I check to see if I left a filter on the lens. Nope. Hmmmm...
Good thing to remember when using flash - aperture controls flash, shutter speed controls ambient light. If I use a light meter to test the output from my flash and it says f/16 @ ISO 200. I set my camera to the same and I should have a proper exposure of whatever is being hit with the flash. The shutter speed determines the exposure of the background - anything NOT lit with flash.
Back to the shoot. I pull down the umbrella and go bare flash. Not working. I'm getting annoyed. I pop up another stand and another flash hitting the flower from the both sides. Still not getting the light where I want it.
Cue the wind...
I keep plugging away. It's getting more frustrating. I have this tiny flower surrounded on two sides by 580EX IIs and the other side by a tripod. Here comes the wind. The flower is shaking like crazy! I wait it out. Start shooting again. I bump the flower - waiting. More wind - waiting... AAAAAAAAAHHHH!!
What is going on? Either flash is just about four inches from my subject. I check the connections and watch the flashes as they fire. Everything is working. I pump up the flash power and pull out the light meter. f/45!!!! Are you kidding me??? My lens doesn't go beyond f/32! This is just getting silly. I jiggle the settings a bit more before giving up and packing it in.
Back home I review the shots. No keepers. Sadness.
Moral of the story...
Not every time you pick up the camera will be pure magic. Some days it is just not going to happen, especially when you're trying to take a macro shot of some crazy-ass, outer space, black-hole center varietal. Now that I think about it, there were bees everywhere but they wouldn't touch this plant. Hmmmmmmm. Suspicious. Another good thing to remember is if it's not working at one location, try another. Sometimes a fresh location is all you need to get things flowing again.
I always like to end on a positive note. If my shoot goes kind of crappy I try to take a no-miss shot of something completely different to get right "back on the horse" and keep the confidence high. Here's what I shot.