Gearing Up: Easy Mac(ro)

Summer is a perfect time to flex your macro photography muscles. The bugs are crawling around. The flowers are blooming. Doesn’t it just make you want to get out that macro lens and start shooting?

Our lighting expert Steve happens to be a killer macro photographer. Oftentimes he’ll simply go out to his backyard and capture some fantastic shots.

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Recently, Steve decided that he would show us how easy macro photography can be.

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Steve’s gear set up was pretty simple. He equipped a Nikon D4 with a Nikon 105mm F/2.8 Macro lens. His tripod was a Manfrotto 190XB, which he chose for its vertical/horizontal column mechanism and its ability to get very low to the ground, and to which he attached a Manfrotto 498RC2 Midi Ball Head.

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Some macro photographers prefer to use macro flash, for obvious reasons. Macro flash units usually fit around the lens, either as a ring flash . . .

macro ring flash

. . . or as two or three smaller flashes surrounding the lens, pointing directly at the subject.

macro flash setup

But you don’t need macro flash. Any flash will do, really. For his light sources, he used two demo LumoPro LP180s. One was triggered with a PocketWizard FlexTT5 in basic triggering mode, with a PocketWizard MiniTT1 on his camera’s hot shoe, while the other LP180 was triggered optically. He attached the flashes to one LumoPro LP734 and one LumoPro LP605S for their ease-of-use and portability. He also used a Westcott Ice Light, not to light the scene but to get focus. He turned on the Ice Light, got focus from the contrast produced by the light, then turned the light off before shooting.

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The key to his images, however, is sugar water. That’s right: sugar water. He combined plain old sugar and plain old water into a spray bottle, and sprayed the grass with it. The sugar helps the water stick to the grass and create those fantastically plump droplets you saw in the photo above.

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Here’s what the final setup looked like. Super simple, and depending on the camera, relatively inexpensive.

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What else do you want to know? Email Michael with any questions you might have about equipment or approach, and it might be featured on the blog!

Midwest Photo

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