As a lighting geek, I like to use super simple macro lighting techniques whenever I can. I shot this video to go along with this article to give you two ways to explore this topic.
This close-up photo of the popped popcorn kernel below was shot without any electrical lights turned on or flash units employed. It was done with light streaming in through a small window, directly to the left of my subject and about 4 feet higher than the popcorn.
This was one of my favorite images, cropped down from the original to show about half of the entire kernel of popcorn. If you think it's pretty cool. please share it someone.
I've seen some very complicated macro photography lighting set-ups involving a few flash units.
There are some very handy Macro photography light boxes but they aren't necessary for all of the close-up photos you take.
Don't get me wrong, they are simple and convenient to use and we all like simple.
They give generally good lighting and are a safe way to go in many macro photographic situations.
Certain subjects with highly reflective surfaces like jewelry or silverware are great to photograph with macro light boxes. That is a topic for another day.
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For both the popcorn photos above and below I used an affordable macro lens combination of extension tubes and a prime 85mm lens. I used the mirror lock-up function to prevent any camera shake during the long exposures ranging from 1/4 second to a few full seconds, depending on the f-stop I chose.
The only light modification I did was to lean a small piece of white Foamcore against a small tripod right up against the popcorn bowl. (Watch the video)
This fills in the shadows and reduces the light ratio to a good level. White objects can be tricky to photograph. In photography school one of the most challenging assignments in the first year photography class was to photograph cottage cheese. OMG, that was real tough!
This final photo was shot the day before using was somewhat simple lighting set-up. I only used one light, a 250 watt utility light. I aimed it's broad spread of bright light at the ceiling and a very large sheet of foamcore that was just to the left to light this macro photo of the red rose.
I "cheated" a bit and used a spray bottle with water to create the water drops on the petals.
If you can use super simple macro lighting whenever possible, it makes concentrating on your composition much easier and also makes for a more enjoyable photo shoot.