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Lighting your macro scene with continuous light

From: Foundations of Photography: Macro and Close-Up

Video: Lighting your macro scene with continuous light

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.

Lighting your macro scene with continuous light

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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This video is part of

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

47 video lessons · 15513 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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