Using Hard or Soft Light in Macro Photography

Macro photography responds to light more sensitively than your eye would perceive. Therefore, it is to your advantage to keep the lighting soft light.


Your standard flash is extremely powerful and is likely to cause unwanted hot spots on your subject. However, there are many unique flashes that are specifically designed for macro photography. These are generally softer and less intense. Alternately, you can add some diffusion to the flash that you already have. However, this only solves part of the hard light problem.

Angle of Light

With the specialty flashes, the light comes from the same level as the lens rather than higher than the subject. This helps avoid harsh shadows around the contours of your object. If you do not have a specialty flash, then you can hand hold your standard flash from a side angle. Even with a diffuser, the contrast will still be a problem. Compensate for this by holding a white paper or card on the other side of the object to bounce some fill light into the shadows. You can also create this setup with independent lighting units.

Macro photography works best under soft lighting. Though achieving this requires a little extra effort, the quality of your photos will reflect your work.

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