Macro Photography Tutorial – Part 3 Macro Lighting
This is the third episode of a video series on Macro Photography. This video describes macro photography discussing lights.
With natural light, you can generally get the subject and some part of the background equally well lit as long as the natural light is falling on both. If you want to stick with Natural light, then your subject selection and time of the day you can shoot will be very limited.
At high magnification, you would want your aperture to be small, at least at f/8 or f/11. At such small aperture to expose the shot correctly you need to keep your shutter open for much longer time. Something around 1/50 to 1/100 in broad daylight and around 1/10 to even a full second or more early in the morning or when you are in the shade. That places a huge limitation on the subject selection.
Natural Light macro is generally good option when your subject does not move such as flowers like orchids, roses and gerbera. For insects you would need lot of luck to keep a live insect steady for such long period.
To take a steady shot, you either need a tripod or raise the ISO to very high values or both.
Since natural light requires you to shoot at lower shutter speeds, you can’t do this handheld and need a tripod. That poses another challenge of reaching under the leaves or in the bushes where insects take shelter. In Yogendra’s experience using a tripod for insect photography is extremely clumsy.
Another option is to raise the ISO but again you want crisp details and not noisy ones so raising the ISO too much won’t help either.
Yogendra’s advice is to limit the use of natural light only for flowers or at best very steady insects on a non-windy day.
Continuous Light Source
There are couple types of continuous light sources we can recommend discuss. First is something extremely simple like this table lamp. You can get couple of such table lamps, make a quick diffuser with white butter paper and you are ready to go. This works great for indoor shoot for flowers or really tiny product shoot such as jewelry.
Another continuous light source is LED panel which comes with its own rechargeable battery. You can use this as a complementary light to natural light and fill in shadows. One limitation with these is that they become bit heavy with the battery.
Ideal Settings to start with:
Aperture f/11 – f/14
shutter speed at 1/200
And then adjust your aperture or ISO as needed.
- If you don’t have a flash, start with Pop-up flash
- Get a simple camera mounted flash (any brand)
- Upgrade to dedicated macro flash
- If you can afford it and
- If you are really enjoying macro photography
You can take a look at Yogendra’s work in Macro here: http://www.yogendraphotography.com/