closeup photography : LUSENET : Macro Photography : One Thread

I would like to know the best way to photograph small surgical instruments ie scissors, hemostats and the like. I don't know much about phtography. I have my wifes Olympus om1 which does a pretty good job with a decent macro lens. I need to know about lighting (ring flash?) film speed, shutter speed those sorts of things. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. All the instruments are stainless steel and have both mirror and satin finishes. The average length is about 3.4 to 5.5 inches Can you help?

-- Greg Bruschi (, March 06, 1998


I shoot a lot of jewelry and most of it is reflective which means it can be a pain in the butt to shoot. The ring light approach is a good one, but shooting reflective objects with any kind of flash is hard because there is no way to see the light's effect on the object prior to exposure. If you have access to studio flash lightng you can usually see the effect the light have on the objects through the use of the modeling light. My suggestion is, if you have to use a flash, use a lumiquest softbox attachment or place some white foam core board over your set up and cut a hole in the center for the lens. Then use a flash off camera bouncing it up on to the board. Just make sure the flash isn't shooting directly into the lens. The other option, which is probably the easiest of them all, is to wait for an overcast day and shoot the item outside with the world's biggest softbox. Outside will also work well if you were a white sheet to diffuse direct sunlight.

In any case, working at close range requires great depth of field i.e. you will want to shoot with small apertures F16, F22 or more. With this mind, it may be necessary to use a tripod to steady the camera if the small aperture makes your shutter speed increase too much.

The Olympus OM-1 is a great camera. I had all Olympus equipment until a few years ago when I went auto-focus and switched to Nikon. Good luck with the shots. If you get any scanned please e-mail me a copy.

Tim Brown

-- Tim Brown (, March 06, 1998.

Try this -- A sturdy tripod, that OM1, whatever macro len you have, and a piece of foam-core with a window cut into it. Streched across the window should be a relatively sheer white fabric (cotton bedsheet would work..if you're willing to trim it)... I take that back, you want TWO of thse foam-core with fabric things. Place your items on whatever surface you want to shoot them with. Find someway to get these two Foam-core diffusers to stand just out of the photographic composition that you desire. On the sides of the diffuser OPPOSITE of the items to be photographed, place the brighest lights you can muster (do NOT let them set the fabric of the diffusers on fire!)

With that macro lense and the OM1, set your F-stop to F11, 16, or 22....if you have it, use the DOF preview on your camera to see which of these settings give you enough sharpness from front-to-back to cove your subjet. Set the camera to self-timer or install a cable release... set the camera to Aperature Priotorty, or set the shutter speed to the correct setting as determined by your camera's meter... then hit the release.

Things that could make this work better - REAL diffusers (cost more than foamcore and an old bedsheet though), two bright lamps of the same type, with equal color temperatures...or even better yet, two Flash units..but that'll require some creative use of PC cord, Slave Cells, and a Flash Meter....

This sould give you some passable shots, so you can identify these items w/ ease in the photos, and the diffusion will keep the lighting flat enough that any glossy finishes won't render as pure-white- blinding-refecltions-from-the-lightbulb(tm).

I hope this helps some.

-- Roseblood (, May 12, 1999.

I have a variation of the light reflected off the foam core which works very well for very short lens-to-subject distances. I use a large metal reflector from a White Lightning studio strobe. I insert the camera lens throught the reflector where the strobe light usually goes. Then a light is directed into the reflector toward the camera. The light is reflected toward the subject and due to the shape of the reflector, is focused on the subject. To reduce lens flare, I make a "lens shade" using flat black paper rolled into a cylinder the size of the camera lens barrel. The length of the shade is adjusted according to the lens-to-subject distance. This technique greatly helps get light onto the side of the subject facing the lens. The first try I used Poloroids to get the exposure correct, and not most exposures are the same as the last if the magnification is the same.

-- Howard Smith (, April 26, 2001.

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