I wanted to do some close-up garden photography today but it was too windy. Even trying my fancy cleft stick plant stabiliser didn’t work well enough, so I picked a flower from the garden and popped into the studio. I used a very high tech system, masking tape, to fix the flower to a light stand. I already had some black paper in the background, so nothing needed doing there. I popped my Oly EM-10 on a tripod and fixed a macro lens so I could get up close and personal to the 3-inch flower.
This first image has one cheap and simple light, a £10 IKEA clip-on LED lamp, slightly above and to the left of the camera. It’s quite a hard light that gives sharp shadows. There was a white-painted wall about 3 feet to the right of the flower, and it reflected a bit of light back to the right-hand side of the flower. There’s a nice light to dark flow from left to right.
Holding a piece of white card just out of shot to the right of the flower filled in the shadows on the right-hand side, and gave much more evenly balanced light. Some detail that was in shadow in the previous image has now become visible. The contrast between light and dark is now lower.
Finally I used an electronic flash behind and below the flower to give some backlighting. There’s some light from the white wall, so I didn’t use a close-in reflector. The backlight has popped a bit of contrast back, and given yet more detail.
A simple subject, and an exercise in how simple lighting changes can make quite a difference in the final image.
Off to IKEA with you!