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Using Reflectors and Diffusers for Macro Photography
Text and photography copyright © Jim Erhardt. All rights reserved.
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Wow, what a difference a $20 diffuser can make! As you can see in this photo, the bright “hot spots” and dark, featureless shadow areas have been eliminated. What the diffuser has done is “soften” the light and reduce the range of contrast. Instead of a harsh, pinpoint light source (the distant sun), the light source is now the diffuser, which is much closer to and relatively larger than the subject. This softer, diffused light is much more flattering to the subject and allows greater detail to be revealed.

Notice that the background appears brighter in this photo. This is because the diffuser also reduced the quantity of light falling on the subject, making the camera’s metering system use a lower shutter speed to allow more light to reach the sensor (or film). By reducing the amount of light on the subject, there is less of a difference in illumination between subject and the shaded background.

This photo was taken at f/9 at 1/40th of a second in AV (aperture priority) mode.

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