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Continuous lighting to add fill to a macro shot

From: Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

Video: Continuous lighting to add fill to a macro shot

Macro lighting is a little bit different from lighting at normal scale, because when you're dealing with such small subjects, it's really easy to flood the area with light. That said, macro subjects often need a little lighting boost to bring out details around edges, to show more texture, to reveal more contour. And, that's true with lighting in the real world. It's just you got to be careful about how much light you throw into a scene. That's why, very often, just natural light and a reflector is a really good way to go, because it's a a light easy to control (amount of light).

Continuous lighting to add fill to a macro shot

Macro lighting is a little bit different from lighting at normal scale, because when you're dealing with such small subjects, it's really easy to flood the area with light. That said, macro subjects often need a little lighting boost to bring out details around edges, to show more texture, to reveal more contour. And, that's true with lighting in the real world. It's just you got to be careful about how much light you throw into a scene. That's why, very often, just natural light and a reflector is a really good way to go, because it's a a light easy to control (amount of light).

That said, I'm ready to try something else with this image. I've done a couple of things here. I pulled that leaf out of the way that was bothering me. Did the same thing you saw in last movie. I just pulled it back, and twist tied it around. I've bolted my flower down a little bit more sturdy, because I kept bumping it, and it was moving around. As I look at the image -- let me just shoot one real quick here, -- I'm struck by something else, though. First of all, it's a busy image. I still . . . what's great about this natural light is it creates all of the shadows and highlights. The problem with my image is it has all the shadows and highlights in it.

There is just too many lines going in different places. There's these things in the background, but I don't want to disassemble the flower yet, so I'm just going to have to leave those. Maybe I'll try later to frame the mount or something. I think right now the best way to calm this image down is to go to a shallower depth of field. I'm still at f/16, so I'm going to dial that back, maybe not all the way to full open, but I'm going to go down to maybe 56. On this lens, full open would be 28, so I've still got a little latitude if I don't like this.

Then I take my shot here, and I end up with softer depth of field, which I like. I'm going to go ahead and go all the way open. And, just so you can see what my boundaries are, so I'm going to dial that down to 28. That's good. Unfortunately, now I've lost too much detail on the stamen cluster there in the center, so I'm going to back to 56. I think this is where I'm going to sit, aperture-wise. I like this. It feels like my eye is wandering a little bit. Yes, I've got nice light in the center. I would like to play that up some more. I can't reflect more light in the center, so I'm going to move to some active lighting.

Now, my subject is very small, so I'm going to start with trying something with a small light. And, I happen to have here a gorilla pod light, which is one of these little things. You may have seen a gorilla pod as a camera support. It's got these nice articulated arms, so you can wrap around things, and attach it to different supports, but instead of having a camera mount on the top, it's got a light. So, I'm going to stand it up, just like a little tripod. One thing that's cool about these lights is they have magnets in the feet, so if you got something metal, you can just stick it to them.

What I'm thinking is I want more light in the center. Now, I could start by trying this, and just shining some light down on there, but whoa! That's awfully kind of garish, and overwrought, and looks very lit. One thing that's nice about these gorilla lights is they are dimmable. It's got a little knob here that I can turn to lighten up the image. So, let me grab a shot here, and you can see what this looks like. So, that's pretty nice. It just looks a little too artificially lit to me, has too much brightness coming in right there in the center.

So, I could try coming up further back. The easiest way to dim a light is to move farther away, but I've got another idea. Couple of movies ago, we saw how cool backlighting can be, shining light through a flower. And, we saw that when we were looking at our flower from this direction, directly into our light. So, I'm just going to try some backlighting of my own from down below. I'm going to try to get this positioned. Oh my! I just broke my gorilla pod. These just snap apart, and snap back together, so if you pull it apart, it's no problem to put it back together.

So, I'm just going to shine that right up there. And now, what I get is this. Okay, that still looks artificially lit doesn't it? It's actually looking kind of radioactive. I'm going to turn that down. This is not a bioluminescent flower. I'm going to turn that down a little bit, take another shot. That I'm liking a lot more. That's actually starting to look pretty natural. It looks like that part of the flower has just caught some light. It's definitely helping to lead my eye into the center of the image, which again, is the point of everything that we do in our photographic choices, is trying to control the viewer's eye, whether that's composition or lighting.

It's to try and make sure that they know where the subject of our image is. So, what you've seen here is me building up a shot through natural light observations, figuring out what I like about the light, what I don't, figuring out what camera position gives me the highlights and shadows that I like. I ended up with too many shadows, so I brought in a reflector. Reflectors are most often how you're going to fill in areas that are too dark, fill in areas that have too much shadow. And then, I've added an active light to actually just put a strong blast of light into a particular area.

I often use this to deal with the fact that, when I'm shooting AT shallow depths of field, backgrounds go very dark and diffuse. Take a look at this picture of a stack of dimes. This is actually several stacks of dimes. So, I've got those two in the front, side by side, and then there is another stack in the back. I took one of my little gorilla lights, and hung it from a microphone stand, and shined it, shined it down into the middle of the image. that lit up my background a little bit. It's what gave me the nice highlights in the middle. So, being able to direct a very fine amount of light into an area can be critical at times.

You can pick up these gorilla lights anywhere that you find gorilla pods sold, so camping stores, maybe even Radio Shack, something like that. You can certainly get them offline. So, we're going to continue to work with reflectors and active lighting throughout the rest of this course, as we explore more lighting options when working with small objects.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up
Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

47 video lessons · 15262 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 3m 54s
    1. Welcome
      2m 17s
    2. What you need to know for this course
      1m 37s
  2. 20m 33s
    1. What is close up?
      2m 21s
    2. Understanding minimum focus distance
      3m 55s
    3. Comparing wide lens and telephoto
      1m 55s
    4. Understanding depth of field and focus
      2m 11s
    5. Working with extension tubes
      4m 30s
    6. Working with close-up lenses
      5m 41s
  3. 28m 7s
    1. What is a macro photo?
      4m 15s
    2. Understanding how to shoot macro with a reversed lens
      5m 37s
    3. Using a point-and-shoot camera for macro
      1m 55s
    4. Working with backdrops for macro
      3m 45s
    5. Practicing macro by shooting in the kitchen
      12m 35s
  4. 58m 38s
    1. Choosing a macro lens
      2m 4s
    2. Exploring macro lens features: Focal length
      3m 16s
    3. Understanding macro lens shutter speed
      7m 6s
    4. Shooting basics with a macro lens
      8m 24s
    5. Getting closer with macro lenses and extension tubes
      11m 13s
    6. Working with depth of field and macro
      5m 1s
    7. Understanding depth and composition in macro
      6m 43s
    8. Working with subject holders and support
      6m 36s
    9. Shooting with the Canon 65 mm
      8m 15s
  5. 13m 12s
    1. Working with macro stabilizing options
      5m 45s
    2. Working with sliders for macro
      2m 44s
    3. Working with a bellows
      1m 55s
    4. Working with viewfinders in macro
      2m 48s
  6. 52m 59s
    1. Working with direct light
      6m 13s
    2. Macro and the angle of light
      2m 24s
    3. Augmenting direct light with reflectors
      6m 42s
    4. Continuous lighting to add fill to a macro shot
      5m 55s
    5. Lighting your macro scene with continuous light
      4m 50s
    6. Lighting the macro scene with strobes
      4m 59s
    7. Setting up a macro-specific flash unit
      3m 21s
    8. Shooting with the Canon Macro Twin Lite
      7m 56s
    9. Shooting macro in a light tent
      3m 31s
    10. Shooting macro on a light table
      7m 8s
  7. 19m 44s
    1. Field shooting for macro, starting at home
      7m 5s
    2. Managing backgrounds in the field
      7m 39s
    3. Shooting macro water droplets
      5m 0s
  8. 56m 19s
    1. Creating a simple manual focus stack
      4m 40s
    2. Creating a focus stacked image with manual merge
      6m 17s
    3. Creating a focus stacked image using Helicon Remote
      11m 6s
    4. Working with a StackShot rail for focus stacking
      11m 46s
    5. Merging a focus stack with Photoshop
      11m 12s
    6. Merging photo stacks with Helicon
      6m 53s
    7. Understanding the aesthetics of depth of field
      4m 25s
  9. 1m 5s
    1. Next steps
      1m 5s

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