Friday, July 31, 2015

New at the Studio: Savage Universal Macro Art Adjustable Dual Arm LED Light

Well we wanted to call this (and some upcoming) blog post(s) "Equipment Review" or "Field Test" but we are sponsored by Savage Universal so it really would not be right to give a product review, Savage sends us some awesome gear and we wanted to share with you some of the cool things we get to use in and around the instead of "gear test" or "product review" we're just going to share some photos, our experiences and maybe some cool tips or tricks that might help you if are looking into the products.
       You might know Savage for their seamless paper backgrounds, backdrops, support stands and other studio equipment but recently they started promoting their Macro Art line up including extension tubes and the Dual Arm LED light we are featuring in our write up today.
Not going to lie...being sponsored is pretty cool and it's something we never thought would happen (more on that later in an upcoming post) so when packages show up it's like Christmas morning, we grab the boxes, run into the studio and immediately open the boxes to gaze on the gear with wide open eyes. After that we start thinking of all the different shoots and cool projects we will do with the gear. Most of the time we head right out and start shooting but it was later in the day so I decided to venture out first thing in the morning.
 It was no different when the LED light arrived but when you open the box you have gear that looks like it's gazing back at you, anything with a science fiction looking appearance is good in our book especially when it almost looks like one our favorite subjects to shoot in our spare time...insects.  I exaggerate a bit but the dual arms do resemble some bug antennae, these antennae...excuse me I mean arms are flexible articulated covered extensions which can be positioned in many ways for pinpointing lighting on your macro subject.  You can attach the light right to the hot shoe of your camera or secure it to a light stand or tripod via a cold shoe such as the enlight photo frio.
The easy to read control panel on the back has options for Flash or Continuous and each arm light can be operated separately, the lights at the end of the arms are surrounded by a cooling fin like casing.

The bug view

The other gear for the session.
 Camera Nikon D4
 3 Legged Thing Frank tripod.
 The LED light arms measure about 23" so that was plenty of length to reach around the Sigma 180mm lens (w/hood).
We were able to go above, under and around the lens for multiple lighting angles and more importantly stayed in place. If shooting insects you might want to position the lights in the desired orientation first as with most articulated arms they make a squeaky sound when you bend them...which could startle your multi legged subject. Also because the arms are pretty long you might want to remove the light if you are picking up your gear to relocate, the arms could bounce up and down when walking and you don't want to have the light hit the front of your lens...those light casings are metal.
Here are some shots we took with the dual Arm LED light starting with the image of a wild carrot called Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota).
1/125sec, f/11, ISO1600
 Here are some thistle. Love the way we were able to aim these lights.
1/200sec, f/16, ISO140

1/200sec, f/16, ISO140
1/200sec, f/16, ISO140
The great thing about thistle is they attract butterflies, butterflies can be pretty skittish at least around here in the rural parts of New Jersey so it's best to focus on the flower and wait until they land while remaining quiet and still. We were lucky enough to have these Eastern Tiger Swallow Tails fluttering around the thistle all morning. We had one arm pointed underneath to get some light under the thistle as well as under the wings and the other arm coming down at a 45 degree angle to get some catch lights in the eyes.
Hi There!
awww, shy butterfly. ButterShy?

1/125sec, f/16, ISO400

Sharing the thistle with a bumble bee

Some insects I will actually approach without my gear and gently move in closer to see if they will "bug out", if they take off I pretty much know they won't stick around for me to set up my camera. Butterflies will usually return multiple times to the same flower so as mentioned before you just want to get set up, focus and wait. Don't try chasing butterflies from flower to flower it's near impossible to capture anything that way. I've actually watched photographers chase bugs when they switch flowers or fly away and the only thing you might get doing that is exercise, not that there is anything wrong with that but I enjoy relaxing behind the camera and sometimes with a tasty cool beverage while the bugs do all the work. We will have another post on photographing insects and even hummingbirds which explains in more detail on our set-up and method.
 That's pretty much it for our little write up, still testing the waters on blogging so I hope you at least enjoyed the photos. Again hoping it did not come across as a review, more shots soon when things settle down a bit here at the studio. More than likely we will bring it inside the studio to check it out during a product shoot or two.
For more on the Macro Art Dual Arm light or other Savage gear just head over to their site HERE.