Improving Macro Photography with Photoflex LiteDiscs

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When shooting a wildlife image outdoors, an abundance or lack of sunshine can be a challenge to work with in terms of highlights, shadows, contrast and detail. Photoflex LiteDiscs offer a variety of surfaces and are easy to work with to solve many of these challenges.

Often it is convenient to shoot outdoors during the mid afternoon, however, at this time of day, sunlight tends to be directly overhead and way too bright. This harsh overhead sunlight results in distracting shadows and highlights as well as and an overall lack of detail and texture due to the increase in contrast. Adding a Translucent LiteDisc above the flower will diffuse the sunlight and result in more detail and texture. The reduced contrast also allows your camera to record color with more depth and tone.

Here is another example of diffusion. In the first image with sunlight only, the highlights on the flower tips were so bright that all detail was lost in this area. The dark shadows on the left of the frame were also distracting and the overall exposure lacked balance. Adding diffusion allowed for less contrast between highlights and shadows and created more detail on the flower petals. Shadows in the background were also reduced, resulting in a more balanced exposure overall.

When choosing a Translucent LiteDisc to use for diffusion, the size you choose is important. If you want to diffuse your subject only and allow the background to remain in full sun then most often you can use a 12” LiteDisc. If you would like the option to also diffuse the background, then you will want to use a 22” LiteDisc or larger.

In the example below, a 22” LiteDisc was used 2 ways. In the first shot both the flowers and background are in full sun with an exposure that is averaged between the two. In the second photo, the flowers are diffused while the background is left in full sun. The shot was exposed for the flowers, resulting in a slightly overexposed background. In the final shot, both the flowers and the background were diffused, resulting in a more low-key exposure overall. This is a personal preference and something that is fun to experiment with in the field.

While diffusion is an excellent choice for midday, overhead sunlight, it is it not always the best choice at other times of day. Early in the morning and late in the day, sunlight is more directional and less bright. At these times using diffusion can sometimes result in an image that is too diffused and flat.

In the example below, the purple flower was photographed late in the day with western light. In the first shot a 22” Translucent LiteDisc was used and the image is very nice but removing the LiteDisc resulted in an image with more contrast and overall drama. This is another aspect of macro photography that is a personal choice. With the Translucent LiteDisc in your kit you have the freedom to create the look you want.

On overcast days you may be faced with the issue of having too little sunlight. Often overcast and diffused light can be a blessing but sometimes it can be so diffused that images appear flat and without contrast and depth. This problem can be solved using reflection.

In the example below the flower was photographed late in the day with very overcast light. The resulting exposure is flat and without much depth. Adding a 42” Silver LiteDisc reflected light onto the flower petals and helped pop it out from the background. Contrast was also increased which intensified the colors and deepened the shadows.

The opposite side of the 42" Silver LiteDisc you see in the photo above is a black panel, also known as a black flag. For fun we used this panel as a backdrop to isolate some flowers and also to partially shade them.

The flowers below were photographed on a partly cloudy day with a very shallow depth of field. The black background helped to pop the colors and remove any background distractions. In each shot the LiteDisc was placed behind the flower but still allowed for light to illuminate the surface of the petals. With partial clouds in the sky, no diffusion was needed.

Photoflex LiteDiscs offer many surfaces to help solve the many lighting challenges of macro photography. Contact Photoflex today to order yours: 831-786-1370

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