Photography News Issue 35

Photography News | Issue 35 |

Technique 20

Lighting academy Flower power Flash goes together with macro like brown sauce ina friedegg sandwich. And it’snot just a question of taste. The photographic principles behind macro photography demand as much light as possible, and flash is the easiest way to get it (sure, you can rely on the sun, but only for about one month a year; or you can use continuous lights, but if you’re working with delicate florals even the low heat of LEDs will soon shrivel them up.) gale, so longer exposures really aren’t ideal, unless you’re dealing with static subjects. You could raise the ISO sensitivity to compensate, which will allow faster shutter speeds at the same aperture setting, but there’s a downside to that, too; the increased noise at higher sensitivities will soften the fine details you’re looking for. Fortunately flash can solve these problems, and with freedom of placement you can also portray your subject more creatively than using only the available light. element in an unbroken line, but actually uses two curved flash tubes. There’s an advantage to that, however, which comes in changing the lighting ratio between the two. You don’t need to stick to just a ring flash, though, and here I also planned to add a second flash as a backlight, more of which later. Words & pictures by Kingsley Singleton Using flash with macro subjects is a sure-fire way to make the most of their form and detail. But you need the right kit and techniques to do it... So why does macro need a lot of light? That’s down to

Fitting the flash and composing Setting up a ringflash is easy. The powerpack sits in the hotshoe accessory port, just like a regular speedlight flashgun, and connects the flashtube by a flexible cord. The flashtube is mounted much the same as you fit would a filter holder; an adapter ring screws onto the front of the lens like a filter and the flashtube assembly simply clips onto that. Next, I composed the shot, securing the camera on a tripod and making sure that the subject didn’t sit within the ‘throat’ of the ringflash, where it wouldn’t get any light. The flash does of course make it easier to shoot handheld, but with manual focusing in play, a locked-off position is much easier. Focusing so closely, it’s also likely that some part of the assembly will make contact with bits of the subject like the broader spread of stemsandleaves,whichcantransfervibrations from the camera andmake results unsharp, so I grabbed some scissors and snipped away anything that was touching.

relationship between macro focusing and aperture...

Sowhy doesmacro need a lot of light? That’s down to relationship between macro focusing and aperture, as well as any movement is exaggerated by the closeup view. Let’s unpack this a bit: as you focus closely on a macro subject there is a natural light loss as the lens extends out and this can be significant. It can be one stop or more. Alsodepth-of-fieldgets very shallowevenat small apertures, so to hold the subject in focus you often need pick settings like f/11 or above. Those small apertures don’t let in as much light, so to get a bright exposure you then need slower than normal shutter speeds. Now, these slower shutter speeds have a drawback in that you’re more likely to show movement in the subject or from the camera (especially if you’re shooting handheld). What’s more, when focusing closely even a slight breeze can make delicate flowers or grasses look like they’re whipping about in a

Lighting for macro So, flash is the saviour here, but with macro you also often need to pick the right kind of flash. For example in this technique I was using a Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2:1 macro lens that focuses very close to the front element. A regular pop-up flash, or even an accessory flash mounted on the camera can’t deal with that, as the lens itself will block light from the flash hitting the subject; everything ends up in shadow. Placing a flashgun right next to the lens isn’t ideal either, so a ringflash or ringlight is required; a type of flash that sits around the front element, so that its illumination is right where it’s needed. For this technique I used a Nissin MF18 Macro Flash, which like many similar accessories, isn’t strictly a ringflash; the light does not extend all the way around the front

1/8sec with no flash

Top Shooting in manual mode at f/11 and with an ISO of 400, a shutter speed of 1/30sec was used to retain some ambient light in the background and balance the illumination from the flash. Above A ringlight or macro-flash wraps around the front element adding vital light to tiny shadowed subjects.

1/30sec with TTL flash

1/30sec with TTL flash at +2.0EV and backlight

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