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It's a small world, and capturing it with a photograph can be challenging. In this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long takes you on a fantastic voyage into the realm of the tiny, detailing the gear and shooting techniques necessary to capture extreme close-ups of everything from products to posies.
After touring the possibilities of macro photography, the course details essential gear at several price levels, including lenses, flashes, and other accessories. Next, Ben explores the special challenges of macro photography: dealing with moving subjects, working with extremely shallow depth of field, focusing, lighting, and more.
The course also explores advanced close-up tools and post-processing techniques, such as using Adobe Photoshop to "stack" multiple shots to yield wider depth of field than a single shot can convey.
When we had indirect light, we had light wrapping around all of the details in our image. Every side was evenly illuminated. Now, we have a problem. We've got this nice, direct light that's creating a lot of cool shadows and things, but it's, in some places, creating too many shadows. As I mentioned before, I don't like how dark these things have gone. I've got a couple of other shadow problems that I'm not crazy about. I don't like this line across here that's being cast by this pod over here. So, what do I need? I need more light. I need light wrapping around like it was when I had diffuse light. So, you may think, "Oh! That means you get to use your strobe," which I could. Strobes are hard to control. They produce a lot light, as do continuous lights.
Before we move on to that kind of solution, it's a little bit easier to try something much simpler, and that is a reflector. A reflector can be simply a white piece of cardboard, a white piece of paper. I've actually got a dedicated photo reflector here. What I like about these is it's a very small circular thing. This was about $12, and it pops open into this reflector that's got white on one side and kind of a gold-silver mix on the other. So, my idea here is to use this to bounce some of my light source on to this side of the flower.
So, I think about this kind of like a pool shot. I'm thinking the light is coming this way, so I'm going to get my reflector right in about here to bounce the light back up onto this side. I'm starting with a light side, because no need to add more light than I need. So, if I come in here, a lot of times it's hard to tell what the reflector is doing. And, the way you manage that is take it away, put it back, take it away, put it back. I'm seeing a big change. Let me grab a couple of shots here for you. This is without the reflector. And, I'm here at f16, so I've got lots of nice, deep depth of field.
Here is with the reflector. So, that has kicked in a lot of extra light there. I'm liking that. I'm going to go ahead and try the gold side. Now, the gold side is going to throw more light, because it's a more reflective surface. However, it is also going to change the color of a light. It's going to mix in some yellowish gold. A lot of times you may not want that. It can make skin tones look a little too copper tony or something. I don't know. In this case, I'm actually dealing with a subject that's kind of yellowy gold already, so I'm assuming that it's not going to make horrible difference.
And, what I'm doing right now when I'm looking at it is that I'm watching the problem areas that I had identified. I'm looking at the thing that I wasn't liking. And, let me grab that shot. And, that looks good. I think I like that. I want the reflector right here. The problem is I have to stand here, and hold the reflector right here. It makes it a little bit difficult to do other things. What I really need is another arm. Well, you saw that earlier, actually, if you watched the accessories chapter. I have my McClamp, which we were talking about earlier, as a way of holding subject matter. I'm going to use it this time to hold my reflector in place.
So, I'm just going to clamp it here on to my tripod, and see if I can get it positioned in a way that it will hold my reflector. And, it makes these kind of complaining sounds while I'm doing that, but I'm not going to take that personally. So, what's nice about these things is they pretty much stay where you put them. Famous last words. Okay, there we go. That looks pretty good. Let me take a shot again to be sure that I am getting the effect that I want. And yes, I am. So, that's what I just got. This is looking good.
I still got this shadow across here. Now, I could try to get my reflector in there to wash that out, except my reflector is already kind of hitting this whole area with a lot of lightness. It's not really doing any good. Rather than try to change the lighting, I'm just going to try and eliminate the thing that's casting the shadow. And, if you're not sure what it is, you can just start poking the flower. That said, I should point out that -- before you start poking the flower around, -- when I got the flower set the way that I wanted it, I put some museum wax down where the stem is touching the base, just to hold it in place.
So, I've hopefully got the flower locked down here. So, what I want to do is, while keeping an eye on this shadow, I'm just going to start moving things around, and go ahead and hold my flower. Sure enough, that's the culprit. I need that out of the way. So, I could go grab another big McClamp, and try and deal with that, but I'm afraid I'll crush this whole thing. It's kind of overkill. I could use some museum wax again to try to stick this pod to another stem. I have just a little twist tie here, which I think is going to be fine.
You could probably also use a rubber band, but that's going to be harder to work with. I'm going to go ahead and fashion this twist tie into the shape that I need. If I say that I'm fashioning it into the shape that I need that sounds much more skilled than if I say I'm just going to bend this twist tie. So, having fashioned it into the shape that I need, I'm going to pull this over here. I'm trying not to break it, because, well, that just sounds kind of cruel. Also, I want to maybe use this flower for other things.
So, my real issue is I just don't want to mess up my composition here; I have this thing positioned very carefully. I don't want to get it all bent out of shape. And, I think that's going to do it. Okay, my shadow is gone. Let me see if I've still got the shot that I want. Again, I'm using live view here, just because it's easy. Now, I moved the flower a little bit, so I'm going to move the whole thing back. This is a big part of macro photography, just these tiny little positioning changes that really alter your composition.
Okay, that's looking pretty good. So, I think, I think that's good. So, I'm liking this. I've opened up some of these shadows. I've eliminated the shadow that I don't want. I've got a composition that's working for me. If you notice, I have framed . . . oh, there we go. I had a composition that was working for me. All right, you got to be very careful with this stuff. I have a composition that's working for me. I've framed it so that all of these stamens have a nice backdrop of that pink flower back there. The sides of the frames are balanced by the petals off to the side.
I'm not crazy about that green leaf that's back there. I'm going to let that go for now, because I want to do a couple of other little experimental things. I want to try going to a shallower depth of field, and I want to try another lighting thing. Reflectors are great for times when you want to fill in shadows, when you want to lighten some of the harsh areas, but after a while there are times when you just need to add a lot of light into an area, and to do that, you need to go to more active lighting. We're going to look at that next.
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