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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.
In the last couple of movies, you saw me making a lot of finessey little lighting adjustments through reflectors and other light to try to get more light on the particular areas of the flower. That's some of the macro lighting you're going to do. When you're in real close, as we are right now, you're going to have to turn to some stronger solutions. Now, I'm still here by my window, and I've still got daylight coming in through the window, but it's not enough to really get a lot of light inside the flower. Before we set all this us up, we grab the little clip of what this flower looks like. Here it is. You can see that it's pretty deep. And, I want to zoom into that area way down inside there.
I've got my 65 mm lens here. I've got it extended all the way to 5X, and I want to shoot at f/16. Because of 5X, my depth of field is so shallow. Now, with this lens at 5X at f/16, you're actually shooting at an equivalent f-stop on a normal lens of f/95. And, this is all listed in the manual for this lens. There is a little chart showing equivalent f-stop. So, I'm really, really taking a light cut working with this lens. So, if I take a shot just with my ambient lighting here in the room . . . Let me see if my shot is still lined up properly. It is. Okay.
At 5X, any motion anywhere in the county will vibrate my camera, so I'm going to stop, and grab my shot, and this is what I get. It doesn't look bad, but it's awfully dark in there, so I need to get more light in. And, this is not a case where I'm going to be able to direct light with just one of those tiny little pods or something. It's a teeny, tiny little area. I just need to flood it with light. So, I have some lights here. I actually got these at a camera store, but you could also just get . . . these are basically just work lights like you get at a hardware store.
What's nice is they work with . . . they've got actually four sockets in them, so you can put four bulbs in and you've got two controls. You can light up two of the bulbs, or all four. I have got compact fluorescents in here, which are nice, because they're actually daylight- balanced, meaning they're the same color quality as the light that's coming in through my window, or close to it, anyway. So, I am going to turn on. I usually actually go ahead and start. And, something like this with just turning on both, because usually just two of them isn't going to help. So, let me grab a shot here. Again, I'm going to let everything calm down.
Now, first of all, my shutter speed is a little bit faster, because I've got some extra light, which is good, because even on a stable tripod, a longer shutter speed just makes me more prone to softening in my image. And, here's what I got. It immediately looks better. It's not just that it's brighter. It's that I'm getting these really cool highlights and things on different parts of the image. It's just a much more dynamic, interesting-looking image. Gives me a better sense of depth, even though my depth of field is so shallow. Now, if I had found that there was too much light there, which is unlikely to happen, but if I had, you know, I don't have a lot of finesse on my controls here, but I can always move the light backward. So, don't forget about light positioning forward and backward as a way of attenuating a light source.
I can also move the flower closer if I needed to get more light. So, you can see there's nothing that complicated about the way I set it up. I just got it flooding the area with light, and I'm actually lighting through the flower petals. That's going to be something I probably want to explore later is how do these flower petals look, with all this light on them? Tthey might look very cool. I want to see what happens if I light from the other side also. I went ahead and set up both lights. So, I'm going to turn these on, and grab yet another shot. Interesting. There was a lot . . . I've now got a lot more light. My shutter speed is way down.
Here's what I get. It doesn't look dramatically brighter, but notice the difference between that first lit shot and this one. There is a change. So, even with this kind of brute force, just flood lighting that I'm doing, I still have some creative decisions to make. I can still have, as you can see, some shadows in different places between these two images, so it's worth experimenting. Next thing I might do is just turn off one of these, and see if that makes any difference. And, I can even turn off one over here, and just start playing with the balance of the two. And, as I said, I could move them back and forth, and see what I get.
So, when you're working very, very close, you're probably going to want just some kind of big flood lighting to get a lot of light into your subject. Very likely, you're not going to able to do that, even with just a strong shaft of light through a window. You're going to need to get some continuous lighting in real close. The reason we're using continuous lighting right now, instead of strobe . . . . And we're going to look at strobe. The advantage of continuous lighting is it's all the time. There's more that I can see through the viewfinder. It's just a little bit easier to start to set up my shot.
Not a very expensive solution. You'll want some light stands. An easy way to get a lot of light into your macro scenes.
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