Photography Monthly's tip week: Making the most of macro, Tip 4
Today is the fourth instalment in our Making the Most of Macro photography week.
Today’s tip is learn your lighting:
In studios, you can control all of the variables and use any light you desire (hot lights, strobes, HMI, etc). But in the field, you don't have control over the light. One moment you may be shooting in bright sunlight, the next under the dark canopy of a forest. It could be sunny or cloudy.
The solution is to bring your own light, such as a ring flash or a two-flash, lens-mounted setup. This way you can also stop and get a greater depth of field and sharper focus.
Macro ring lights are widely used and are extremely helpful with lighting your subject. Essentially, you’re attaching a ring of soft light around your lens which will help illuminate your immediate foreground. This works almost like a portable light box, giving you even light without being overly dramatic. For any dark environments, ring lights can throw light exactly where you need it.
Instead of bringing in additional lights, you can always use the light around you. If you’re photographing outdoors, you should consider using reflectors to direct sunlight onto your subjects – acting as a fill light to shadow sides. This can bring a whole new element to you image, and pretty much anything can act as a reflector, such as tin foil for a dramatic spotlight effect.
If the sun is causing harsh shadows then you can diffuse it with a white umbrella. If you want to bring out colours from behind the subject then you want to create some backlighting.
Backlighting may be done by using a reflector or deflecting surface to backlight the subject. A ‘Kicker’, which is an off axis light that helps to define the side of your subject, or light from behind the subject may also be used.
You need to be careful to avoid flare caused by the kicker’s light coming onto the lens. You can do this by using a lens hood or black cardboard as ‘cutters’ to block the light from falling directly on the lens.
Have a go at experimenting with lighting your macro subjects and upload your shots to our marvellous online gallery.
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