AmSnaps - Digital Photography Basics For Amateur Snappers

Macro Photography Lighting Allows You To Get Up Close While Keeping Your Subject Razor Sharp

Use macro photography lighting to sharpen extreme close-up photography. This can prove challenging unless you have the right equipment and understand what it takes to get a clear, precise close-up shot.

When high magnification (long shutter speed) is used, there is a tendency for darkness in the pictures so it's a good idea to acquaint yourself with some basic macro photography lighting techniques.

Natural light is always best, but not always predictable and sometimes natural light needs to be modified to get the best shot. There are a few pieces of equipment that can be vital to achieving this goal.

A diffuser is used to diffuse light and bring more illumination to your subject as well as soften any shadows that might exist. It is made of a large metal hoop that is covered in translucent nylon.

You will want to hold it as close as possible to your subject without it showing up in the frame.

A reflector looks similar to a diffuser except that the cloth covering the ring is usually solid white, silver or gold. This serves to reflect extra light on your subject by acting as a mirror.

The white covering will make the lighting look more natural, while the silver/gold will add a warm glow to your shot.

There are several ways you can aim your reflector to vary the shot, but perhaps the most common is to turn the reflector so that the light merely glances off your subject instead of shining precisely on it.

Photo Tip: When using either a diffuser or a reflector it is very helpful to have your camera on a tripod. This frees up your hands to adjust the lighting to your preferences.

If your subject is inanimate you won't need to worry about constantly moving your camera's position so a tripod is a great piece of equipment to have handy.

However, if the subject is prone to movement, you may need an extra set of hands.

Macro photography rarely needs a flash. Light decreases the further it travels, so when it only needs to travel a very short space it can overwhelm the subject.

However, if you are shooting indoors with a lack of natural light some additional lighting will be necessary. A halogen shop light can provide a cheap solution.

There are more expensive options for your camera such as flash heads or ring lights, but a halogen light placed at a little distance can provide more than enough light as well.

Halogen lighting can occasionally cause a greenish glow to show up in your shot, but that can be altered and balanced later digitally.

What is so amazing about macro photography lighting is that it can illuminate a single instant that would most likely be overlooked by the naked eye.

A single drop of water shattering a still puddle. A honeybee coming in for a landing on a brilliant flower. A ladybug stretching her wings. Most of these scenes would go unnoticed by us each day, but with photography we see another side of the remarkable world we live in.

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David Coote
Wedding Photographer
Northern Ireland