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Lighting the macro scene with strobes

From: Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

Video: Lighting the macro scene with strobes

If you watched the last movie, you saw me solve this particular exposure problem we're having right now. It's a big light. The problem I'm having is, zoomed out all the way to 5X on the 65 mm macro, I am just cutting out all the light in my scene. I'm at f16 and, on this lens, 5X zoom at f/16 is the equivalent to f/95 on a normal lens. There is a whole chart about f-stop equivalency in the 65 mm manual. So, I've just got a very, very dark image. Let me give you a shot of what I've got here.

Lighting the macro scene with strobes

If you watched the last movie, you saw me solve this particular exposure problem we're having right now. It's a big light. The problem I'm having is, zoomed out all the way to 5X on the 65 mm macro, I am just cutting out all the light in my scene. I'm at f16 and, on this lens, 5X zoom at f/16 is the equivalent to f/95 on a normal lens. There is a whole chart about f-stop equivalency in the 65 mm manual. So, I've just got a very, very dark image. Let me give you a shot of what I've got here.

Again, I'm at f/16, and I have got a different composition than what I had before. But you can see that I have still got the same problem. And, there's just no light way down in there. So, if you already own an external strobe, and you're not interested in buying more gear, there's no reason you can't just flood your scene with this thing, and not have to buy a bunch of big external lighting. However, if you're thinking that you're just going to put your flash on your camera's hot shoe, that's really not going to do any good. We need light way down here. This thing's pointed that way. You're going to cast a shadow into your scene. It's just not going to work.

You've got to get your flash off the camera. And, actually, you almost always want your flash off the camera, anyway. So, hopefully you already have an off- camera flash cord. I happen to have mine right here. So, I'm going to hook all this up, with the idea that I can get the flash off the camera. Now, whether you already have a flash or not, it might be worth knowing about this thing. This is a brand you may never have heard of, A Young new external flash. It's a very sturdily built, well-made flash with almost the same guide number as the Canon 580EX.

The differenc is they only cost 75 bucks. The other difference is it has no through-the- lens metering. It's an all-manual flash. Thing is, for most macro work, you need to be in all-manual mode anyway, because the TTL metering's are very often screwed up by the weird situations we are in here now. And, in fact, the manual has some caveats about using external flash with the MP 65 here. Even if you're just using a normal macro lens with extension tubes -- however it is you're getting the massive magnification here -- you're probably going to want to work in manual mode with your flash.

I also have here a softbox for this flash. This is a Fotodiox softbox. There are a lot of softbox and diffusion options for your flash. This thing was only 15 or 20 bucks, so it's an inexpensive way to get into some softer light. I'm not going to put it on yet. I want to see what happens if I just go ahead and hit my scene here with the light that I want. All flashes have a sync speed and maximum shutter speed that they can work at. I'm going to put this at 160. I think it will probably go as fast as 200. I just haven't checked the manual for this flash in a while.

And, I know I want my depth of field to be as deep as possible, so I'm going to leave my aperture at f/16. So, what I do now is just start experimenting. Manual flashes, or your automatic flash in manual mode, allow you to change the flash power by fractional amount. So, for example, I can go from full power to half power to a quarter power, eight, and so on. I am going to just go ahead and start here at about 1/16th, because I know that I don't want a tremendous amount of flash. I can control the intensity of the flash by dialing in a fractional power value, or by moving the flash forward and backward. Just going to set it right about here, and take a shot, and look at my results.

So, right away, that's brighter. It's not quite bright enough. The flash isn't getting all the way there into the back of the flower. And, part of that is probably the lens getting in the way. I'm going to try more over here. See what that does. Yeah, that is still not quite working. I'm going to turn up the flash power. So, I'm going to go from a 16th to an 8th. And, that will double the power. I'm going to try and hold the flash in the same spot, and I'm getting this. This is starting to look better, but I'm worried now about overexposure there on the front. It's a good idea to keep an eye on your camera's histogram while you're working. I have not actually over-exposed anything yet.

So, maybe I'll just try dialing up to a quarter power. And that gets me . . . that gets me this, which is looking pretty good, and still doesn't have any overexposure. I really like the way those little tubey things are lighting up. So, I've managed to again flood this scene with just my flash, without having to use big, external, continuous lighting. If I was finding that I needed to get in closer, and I was over-driving things, that's when I would bring in the softbox. This is going to diffuse the light, cut it down, and allow me to get more power into more of the scene.

Something else I could try is putting a reflector over here, bouncing some flash back into the other side. This is very often how, when you working in the studio, you're going to use your flash. There are more complex multi-strobe flash setups that you're going to work with. We're not going get into those in this course, but if you do have a flash and an off-camera cord, this is as an easy way to get more light into your scene. There are other uses for your external Flash. Now, we're going to look at those when we get into the field.

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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 · 15164 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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