Regular readers of this blog and other macro enthusiasts know that to get a decent depth of field, for macro images, one has to resort to small apertures. The problem with this is that the resultant loss of light gives rise to dark images. To overcome this problem, I built myself a DIY macro ring light. However, as I mentioned in that post, although it was good enough for indoor macro photography, It wasn't great for outdoor work. It also wouldn't fit onto my bellows setup unless it was fully extended. I therefore decided to investigate better means of lighting. My Minolta 2500D flash serves the purpose quite well but when the bellows are extended, the flash light is blocked off by the body of the bellows. I wanted to extend the flash to reach beyond the bellows, closer to the subject and the best way seemed to be through the use of a flash bracket. So I bought myself one, but had to modify it to suit my purpose. Here’s what I did.
I bought the flash bracket off ebay. They come fairly cheap from China, although it took a while to arrive. The above image shows the piece. The blue arrows indicate pivots on which the camera can be rotated from landscape to portrait mode, once affixed on the bracket.
The second item to get was of course an off camera flash cable. I got this too off ebay, off the same seller that I bought the bracket from. The cable was very cheap compared to the original Sony product (FA-CC1AM), besides, the Sony product also requires the purchase of the FA-CS1AM Off-camera Shoe, while the ebay item works on its own. I must say however, that the build quality of the ebay item is flimsy at the best.
The above image shows how the bracket is normally set up, but as you can see, although it raises the flash off the camera body thus spreading the light out , it does not serve my purpose of focusing light on to the subject.
Of the two options that the bracket provides, one is to swivel the flash on the bracket itself, but as you can see from the image above, it doesn't do much help.
The other option as shown above is to swivel the camera itself on the pivots, into a portrait position. However that just results in the flash being directed sideways…not much help there either.
I therefore decided to do a bit of DIY to get the bracket to serve my requirement. To do this I had to rotate the flash arm of the bracket by 90 degrees. It turned out to be simpler than I thought. Basically all I had to do was to unscrew the top screw, loosen the bottom screw and work the flash arm into the correct position. Once that was accomplished, I then put the screws back into their respective holes, which held the arm in position.
Here is a video showing the process:
Once mounted I can swivel the flash head to point the light at the subject as shown above.
I can also rotate the camera on the pivots to get it into portrait mode. An added advantage is the ability to hold the entire setup with the comfortable cushioned grip provided on the bracket itself.
The setup feels good to hold and use. I will be testing it out in the field in the coming days (rain permitting!). So watch this space.