How to Photograph Up Close – IX: Alternative Lighting Techniques 3

Introduction / II: Cameras, Lens’ & Tripods / III: Fun Gadgets for macro Photographing / IV: Basic Macro Shots using Natural Light / V: Digital Darkroom Basics / VI:  Creative Techniques using Natural Light / VII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 1 / VIII: Alternative Lighting Techniques 2 / IX:  Alternative Lighting Techniques 3

Hello all,

I have enjoyed sharing my knowledge of Macro & Close-Up Photography with you.  I have placed links above so you can have easy access to the various articles posted previously.  This way you can read up on the materials I gave you and work on some of the techniques to improve your macro mode experience.  Today, I will be discussing umbrella lighting and the use of tents for high reflective surfaces.

Also, I wanted to let you all know that my husband will be having surgery next week so I won’t  be able to post new articles for several weeks.  I do plan to post information on the software I use for digital darkrooming (Lightroom & Photoshop) when I return.

So let’s start…

Umbrella Lighting

I found Mark Bowers’ video on umbrella setup, etc… check it out here. Click around his site to check out his videos, I enjoyed them, I think you will too.  What I like about using umbrellas is the variety of usage I get from them.  I can use them with a flash or with my Speedotron equipment and they come in a variety of colors that can be used to bounce  light or you can purchase a white umbrella to defuse your light (kind of like a softbox).  Umbrellas are light and easy to use.  When shooting macro, position your umbrella close to the subject and then go from there; adjust the light/umbrella to your liking.  Like I always say,  “play, play, play, with your equipment”,  this way you learn what the umbrella will do for you.  Below is a kit for you to check out.  I personally use a variety of umbrellas (but one at a time) and sometimes a reflector with it.  Just as an FYI…my future posts will focus on various subjects and how I photographed them.  But for now, click around B & H or a company of your choosing to see the variety of umbrellas out there, buy one (or two) and play with it.

Click on photo to see up-close and or go to B & H for more info.

Check out B & H for a variety of umbrellas.

Check out B & H for a variety of umbrellas.

The picture of the cute doggy was shot using the umbrella below with my bracket and flash unit…that’s it.  I placed the umbrella/flash unit behind me and above to simulate the sun shining down…don’t go too high or you will need a reflector to remove harsh shadows below your subject.  This technique works well for close-up shots.  I used the silver umbrella to bring out the highlights on the dog’s fur.
umbrella shot

This is the umbrella I used to photograph the adorable dog above  🙂


Place an adapter (see below) to a light stand…you can check out light stands from the link I gave you on the umbrella kit from B & H.  This is a great way to light your subjects when you’re on a budget and cannot afford expensive lighting equipment.



I found a site that has reasonable prices on tents check them out: EZ cube Light Tents. Click around…they show you various ideas for lighting and provide a variety of light drops to place inside your tent.  One word of advice… don’t purchase a small tent because you are macro shooting.  I have a medium size tent and love it…if my subjects are small I place them on a box and shoot away.  You really need to think about the subjects not the style of photography.  For example, the doll below needs to fit in the tent but the photograph may only be her face to see the details of the painted features.  I really like my tent and feel that it was a good investment.  When you have shiny subjects that reflect, I believe that a tent is the best way to photograph them.  My tent has Velcro doors, so if needed, I can leave one area open to put around my lens, this way you all don’t see me or my lights in the picture.

Provided by EZcube Light Tents

Provided by Table Top Studio Store

The balloon character was giving me problems even with natural light.  Sometimes I do want highlights on the subject but I was going for a flatter look.  As you can see from the picture below, the balloon mouse had too many hot spots.  So I decided to use my tent.


As you can see from below…the tent helped and I was very happy with the results.  If you don’t have the money to purchase a tent,  check out this link to make one.

tent non reflect

I always like to give you reading material pertaining to macro photography but today I would like to give you magazines that I enjoy reading.  They may not always focus on macro but the more you read the more you will understand the craft of photographing.

One of my favorite magazines is Shutterbug.  They give you a multitude of information to help you decide on your photography purchases.  If you haven’t already noticed…you will,  photography is expensive!  I always hear, “Why do photographers charge so much!”  Many people do not understand that we don’t just point and shoot the camera, it is a craft that we must learn and invest in.  Learn from me…I have bought equipment (because I love the toys)  and have kicked myself after because I didn’t research enough and found better quality equipment at a cheaper price!

Another magazine I like is Outdoor Photographer.  If you want to get out of the studio, check this magazine out.  I have enjoyed many trips with my husband due to the articles in this magazine.  Macro is fun when you’re in the natural environment!

I also like Rangefinder.  This magazine has a variety of professional photographer’s work & articles about them. Reading the various articles gives me ideas with my own creativity…they may help you too.

One more for you to check out is AfterCapture.  If you’re serious about photography then you will need to learn about digital darkroom techniques.  This magazine is great for that!  You can read about other photographer’s techniques to again help you be more creative.

So today I talked about using various umbrellas to light your subjects.  You can use umbrellas with your flash or your studio lights.  When shooting up close move your light(s) close to your subject and then go from there, if you don’t like what you see change the position of your umbrella/light kit.  I also showed you how a tent can help with reflective surfaces.  Remember, before you purchase a tent think about the subjects you like to photograph, that will determine the size you need.  I also gave you a link to show you  how to make a tent, just in case you don’t have the money to purchase one.  Last but not least, I gave you some suggestions on magazines to check out.  It’s fun to sit down a bit and read articles on all aspects of photography…I enjoy them and I think you will too.

Of course if you have questions while you’re playing with the various techniques/toys, please feel free to email me at or ask via a comment on this blog.  See you all in a couple of weeks from now…well, it depends on how the hubby is feeling, but I will be back!!!




19 Comments on “How to Photograph Up Close – IX: Alternative Lighting Techniques 3”

  1. training says:

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    • Hello everyone,

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