When the weather is bad or you’re in a lockdown, taking some shots at home is one of the best ways to spend time. And there can never be enough ideas to spark some inspiration if you ask me. So, Spencer Cox has created a video to show you seven low-budget ideas for macro photos you can shoot at home right now. He also shares a bunch of useful tips for getting the best results, which will be especially useful if you’re new to this genre of photography.
To shoot macro photos you’ll need a camera with a macro lens (obviously), a tripod, an external flash, and a backdrop. You can simply use a T-shirt or a piece of cloth if you don’t have a real backdrop. That’s what I always do, honestly. You can also make a DIY diffuser for your flash out of a Pringles can if you’re feeling extra creative. But even if not, all these ideas will work with bare flash as well. So, here are Spencer’s suggestions:
1.CD and water: I believe we all have some old CDs lying around the house. Take one and spray some water onto it. Put it on your backdrop and experiment with light to get a bunch of different looks in your shots.
2. Patterns and texture in ice: the cloudy ice you get from your freezer isn’t particularly photogenic, but Spencer shares some tips for making clear ice. Fill a pan with salt and water and freeze it for an hour. Also, boil a separate pot of water, pour it into containers and let it cool down. Then, freeze that in the pan from earlier.
This works best if you light the ice from underneath. So, you can take a piece of glass, put a sheet of paper onto it and then ice on top of it, and light everything from below.
3. Water splashes: get a clear plastic or glass bowl and fill it to the brim with water. Put some paper towels around it so your desk doesn’t get all messy and wet. Now, drip food dye into the water from a good height. This is the kind of shot you need to time right, so it will likely take a couple of attempts to get the best results. I suggest that you use continuous lighting if you have it and shoot in burst mode. Spencer adds that you should bounce the flash off of the ceiling to get soft, diffused light.
You can take this technique further and experiment by changing the color of the food dye, the light, or the backdrop. You can put something interesting behind the container (Spencer added an orange) and add droplets of water instead of the food dye. You’ll get the subject from behind refracted in the droplets.
If you wanna get really fancy, you can even build your own double drop system, and you’ll find the tutorial here.
4. Oil on water: put a white sheet on a low table and put two stable objects on either side of the sheet (buckets, books, and the like). Place a clear glass dish on top and fill it halfway with water. Then, stir in around 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Slide different objects underneath the container to get various colors in your photos and shoot straight down. You can also add some food coloring to the mixture or add gels to your flash. All this will create different looks in your images. As for the lighting, it works best to bounce the flash off the table cloth so that it shines through the glass container from below.
5. Slices of fruit: slice the fruit into thin pieces and fill a glass vase or an old aquarium tank almost all the way with water. Throw in the fruit from a height and take the shots. Just like you did with the water splashes, make sure that the timing is right.
6. Paper: take a stack of paper and curl it into different shapes. You can play with color gels and depth of field to get some pretty interesting abstract shots. Spencer adds that you can do something similar with fabric. It’s awesome how everyday stuff can look totally epic in macro photos.
7. Sponge: take a sponge and light it with a flashlight from the side or from underneath. It has a very unique appearance, almost like lava or the surface of Mars. It looks really cool!
There are plenty of other things around the house that can become subjects of your macro photos. You can find some more ideas here and here. What’s more, there are also plenty of things that you can build yourself to take your macro photography to a higher level. Take a look at these macro rigs, for example. I hope that you’ve found some inspiration and that you have some new photos in mind, and if you do: feel free to share.
[Macro Photography Ideas You Can Do At Home | Spencer Cox]