How to Build Macro Lighting Equipment

Lighting equipment may need to be adjusted to get better results in macro photography. Because the areas you are dealing with are so small and close to the camera, standard procedures will not always lead to strong images. However, you do not need to necessarily go out and buy special equipment for this.

Step 1 - Diffuser

The simplest thing to do is to add a diffuser to your flash. Flashes are designed to illuminate objects at a decent distance from the camera. In macro photography, your subject is likely to be less than a foot away from your lens. Though flashes are supposed to compensate for such distances, it does not always work. The light tends to be too intense and too harsh for the photo. There are many types of diffusers sold in camera stores, but you can also make them yourself.

Step 2 - Plastic Bag

One homemade diffuser requires just a plastic bag and something to secure it with. Use a bag that is white and translucent. It will work best if the material is a bit thicker than most bags so that you can get some rigidness out of it. Fold the bag a few times until it is about twice the width and height of your flash. Now find some rubber bands or tape. If you go the tape route, do not by any means use duct tape. Duct tape will leave nasty residue all over your camera and lens. Instead, either use masking tape or gaffers tape if you have some. Attach the plastic bag to the base of your lens so that it sticks upright in front of the flash. Now when your flash goes off, the plastic will soften the quality of the light and knock down the intensity. You can more or less rethink this idea with any white translucent item that you have lying around. 

Step 3 - Angle of Light

Even with the diffuser, you may find that the angle of light is still too high-angle to get the quality that you want. So you may need to detach your flash from the camera and set it up at an angle. Fr this you will need a cable to connect your flash to the camera so that it still goes off simultaneously with the shutter release.  This also requires some altering of the plastic bag diffuser. You will need to find a way to attach it to the flash without the lens as a mount. Remember that the farther the diffuser is from the light source, the softer the light will be. If you find that the contrast is too high with this new angle of light, try finding a white paper or card to hold up on the other side of the subject. This will bounce light from your flash back into the shadows.

Macro photography requires some well finessed lighting strategies. You do not need to go buy special equipment, but you should try these easy techniques to adjust your light sources.

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