In a quick break from our typical hacks and mods, learn to create a simple macro (close up) photography setup allowing you to create some fantastic, professional shots (see some samples below). Ã‚ I’m an avid photography fan, and besides nature photography, I am most fascinated by marco photography. To take good macro shots however you’d typically thousands of dollars worth of hardware but we can come up with some nifty hacks to save a couple of (hundred) bucks.
A mid-range amateur camera is actually capable of extremely good macro shots (I use a Sony DSC-H9), the problem is usually with lighting and environmental factors, especially if you want to create those clean “product shot” type images. What we need to do is create a closed environment with controlled but relatively bright light. Have a good light source already, you can build it almost for free.
To create our macro environment, we’ll be using a cardboard box, cutting out its sides, sticking some tracing paper or “rice” paper in the holes, and that’s actually about it. I started out with a 14x14x18 cardboard box. I chose these dimensions because mainly this was the box I had at home, but also because while my subjects aren’t that big, I like to have room to play around with the objects themselves, and some shadow-casting.
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Once you have your box, whip out a knife or a razor, and start cutting. First of all, lay the box in its side, and cut off one side almost completely, leaving about 2 inches on each side (see bootom of box in the image). On all other sides we will be cutting windows, leaving 2 inches on each side, but we are removing this side completely. The purpose of this, is to enable you to put your macro box over your subject, rather than putting your subject in.
Once you’ve removed the side, you can start to cut the windows on the other sides. Remember not to remove the whole sides, just cut a rectangle out of each. I left 2 inches all round, but if you have a very sturdy box you can go with less. If you want, you keep the flaps which were at the top of the box (these are now on the side). They can be used for light control, but I’m not such a professional, they just got in my way, so I heartlessly cut them off.
All that is left to do is to stick some tracing paper over the windows. I used some black masking tape to finish the job as you can see on the pic, however, I only stuck it along the top for each window. I used pins to hold the other end in place initially. My idea was to paint shapes on the paper and experiment with lighting like that. In the end some interesting stuff came out of it all, but finally I taped it all around and kept it white.
The last piece of the puzzle is the one thing you might have to pay for, a light source. Apparently you can use a bright light, but I never got exactly the results I wanted. It was still pretty good, but you really should get a better light source. You can buy some appropriate lights for around $20 – $30 on ebay, the best would actually be a manual flash. I am actually in the processes of trying to find a good light source, and I really want two, coming from both sides.
If you’re into photography and have some ideas to make this better, please let us know.Ã‚ Ã‚ Subscribe to stay updated with future posts.