Lighting Your Macro and Close-up Photography Subjects - dummies

Lighting Your Macro and Close-up Photography Subjects

By Thomas Clark

Part of Digital Macro & Close-Up Photography For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Macro and close-up photography typically require you to be very close to your subjects. This can be problematic when it comes to light, as your camera’s lens (or your head) can cast a shadow into the scene or onto the subject. The closer you are to the subject, the more likely you are to block the light.

When working with natural light, choose scenarios in which the subject is lit from the side, there is an ambient type of light, or the subject is backlit. A front-lit situation causes you to be between the subject and the light.

When your scene doesn’t offer the perfect lighting situation for the shot, you can take matters into your own hands:

  • Use a reflector to bounce light into your scene. Doing so helps you control the direction of light and ensure your subject isn’t in shadow. You can use any surface that reflects light, such as a mirror, a white piece of foam core, or a shiny, metallic type of surface.

  • Keep a small, battery-operated flash in your camera bag. A flash lets you light your subjects from whatever direction you want. Just make sure that you have the proper set-up to fire the flash from off-camera, as an on-camera flash is somewhat useless in macro and close-up situations.

  • Attach a macro-specific ring light to your lens. A ring light surrounds the edge of the lens, providing a flat, even light in close-up scenes. It enables you to light your subject from the front without having to worry about casting your own shadow on it.