Best Tips For Macro Flash Photography
In macro photography, getting enough light on your subject can be difficult.
If you shoot at a low f-stop number like f/1.8, you’ll have a very thin depth of field in your images. Your photographs might look out of focus and blurry.
The solution to this is using a macro flash. A simple portable flash like a Speed lite can open up a whole new world for you when it comes to macro lighting.
What Makes Macro Photography Different?
A macro lens gives you the ability to shoot with short focusing distances. This allows you to take sharp photos of small subjects, like insects, or the stamen of a flower.
A true macro lens has a magnification ratio of 1:1 or greater. The focusing distance is around 30cm. This means that the ratio of the subject on the size of the sensor plane is as large as your subject, or larger.
Keep in mind that your macro lens will behave differently on a camera with a cropped sensor than on one with a full-frame. A 60mm lens on a camera with a cropped sensor will give you a focal length of around 80mm.
On a full-frame camera, the lens will function at its stated focal length. A 100mm lens gives you a 100mm focal length.
The most important thing to understand is that with macro photography, you get a”thinner” depth-of-field.
Depth-of-field is the difference between the nearest and farthest objects that are acceptably in focus. Your depth-of-field is thinner the shorter your distance is from your subject. This means that less is in focus.
Some of your subject may not be in focus enough, requiring you to shoot at higher f/stops, like f/9 or f/11. The result is that less light will enter your lens.
This is where a macro flash comes in to save the day.
Use a Ring Flash for Even Macro Lighting
A ring flash is perfect for macro lighting. It works differently than studio lighting or a Speedlight because it fits around your lens. This allows the light to spread out evenly around your subject area.
If you’ve ever used the built-in flash on a camera, you know how harsh the light can look in photographs.
Because it’s such a small light source, the on-camera flash emits very hard light. Since the light is directed toward your subject, it can be unflattering.
The light from a ring flash is even. It creates a soft, diffused look that is suitable for many lighting scenarios in macro photography.
Understand the Lighting Position
When you have a Speedlight attached to your camera, the light is coming from the front. This isn’t the ideal direction to best flatter the subject.
With photography, it’s not just about enough light, but also the direction of light. You can have a lot of control over your direction of light with a Speedlight mounted to a stand. If it’s attached to the front of your camera, the front lighting can look on your subject.
For example, I shoot a lot of food and still life. In these cases, the light looks best if it’s coming from the side or somewhere from the back.
Front lighting is flat and lacks dimension, with a lack of the shadows that make a photo interesting.
When light is behind the subject, it emphasizes texture and enhances properties, like raindrops.
It’s important to understand how your choice of lighting position affects your results. The next time you shoot, play around with different lighting directions and see how it affects your image.