equipment, techniques

DIY fibre snoot

During my recent trip to Scotland, I was happy enough with my composition and the sharpness of the super macro images I attempted. However, on closer examination of the images, I found the lighting was not to my liking. The trouble is that when lighting small subjects (a few millimetres in size), I want the subject lit without lighting up the background (or the suspended stuff in the water).

The job of a snoot is to restrict and direct the light from the strobe. I have tried before with plant pots and plumbing parts, but have not been happy with the results. Either the light is not snooted enough, or there is too much
light loss.

There are some very good commercially available products, but these are quite expensive, so I was keen to pursue the DIY route. During my googling of the subject, I came across Rob White’s excellent photo site, where he described how he made a fibre-snoot from inexpensive parts. He was quite willing to offer me extra advice, and I had to give it a go!

20140318-223208.jpgThe fibre snoot in place. I first used a neoprene sleeve to hold it there, but this was not secure enough when I tried it in the garden.

20140318-223221.jpgthe snoot base is made from the middle of a DVD “cake box”, the arm is a loc-line kit I got cheaply from eBay and inside is a length of 6mm dia “optical fibre”. I use quote marks because at that large diameter it is not so much an optical fibre as a light guide. I works, though. You can see the arm is off centre and aligned to one of the flash tubes, to maximise light output.

20140318-223230.jpgThe fibre is slightly recessed in the end of the arm and the orange fitting is covered in black insulating tape to cut light loss.

20140318-223242.jpgI decided to use the screw threads built into the strobe head. These two short M3 screws fit nicely, though the black plastic is more flexible than I would like though. I’ll still use the neoprene sleeve I think.

20140318-223250.jpgThis shot gives an idea of the working distance at the near point, when using a +5 diopter on the Nikkor 105mm macro lens. A short working distance, but workable, i feel. I found it fairly easy to set up (in air!) on a static subject. Going to be challenging underwater, to not crash the end of the snoot into the subject.

20140318-225437.jpgThis shot gives an idea of the size of the pool of light from the snoot. The tip has an aperture about the same as the light guide (6mm).

20140318-225448.jpgAn early shot at closest focus of the 105mm lens.

20140318-225454.jpgSame subject using +5 diopter. Happy enough with the lighting.

20140318-225501.jpgAn photo taken outside- heather flowers. This is using the fibresnoot (only just out of shot), the 105mm lens and +5 diopter. Nikon D200, ISO 400, 1/160, f/32. strobe output about 3/4. Nice black background and fairly pleasing lighting without being too obviously “snooted”.

20140318-225507.jpg Exactly the same subject and optics, but not using snoot. Although I like the background in this shot, underwater this would be more “messy” and with more backscatter. I don’t like the hotspot in the foreground, either- needed to point the strobe “out” more.

The next step is to try a narrower tip…..

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