So the first flowers are blooming in the garden (snowdrops), and while my kids played I found 20-30 minutes to do some excersize, and ended up with this image:

Here is the gear I was using: important is not the exact model, but that this is a “fullframe” DSLR with a 180/3.5 macro lens, and a wireless speedlight trigger. This rig could be replaced by many different others, so if your camera happens to be a MILC, your sensor format is smaller, your lens shorter, your flash trigger wired you could still do a similar excersize to get similar results.

Yes, there is a minimum requirement, e.g. camera, speedlight, tele-lens, but some of your gear you could get from the secondhand market, or unless you need 1:1 magnification (small insects), you may be good with cheap manual lenses and extension tubes (e.g. flowers, like in this case).

Before I called it a shooting I tried four scenarios:

1.) Available light only - I chose to shoot in a spot covered with shade to avoid high contrast due to direct sunlight.

2.) I added a bare speedlight, and found direction of light was good but contrast was too much.

3.) Then I added a snoot with honeycomb to narrow down emission angle of the speedlight. I was kind of satisfied with what the camera display was showing: the flowers were quite well isolated from the background by the strong contra-light, so I was close to stop here…

…but afterwards I am happy I did not.

4.) I triggered my flash against the golden side of my reflector (you could build one from chocolate wrapping, but the amont of chocolate you need for this may cost more than just buying the reflector).

So what changed:

a.) light hitting the flower was coming from a way bigger surface (reflector’s diameter is ~1 m) so light changed from point-like to diffuse (vs. bare speedlight, and honeycomb),

b.) lighting contrast increased (vs. available light)

c.) lighting color gained contrast aswell (gold main light vs. cool tinted ambient light in shadow)

As a fist rule, the golden side of a reflector is supposed to model sunrise or sunset: well, it seems to do so.

What is the learning from all this? Probably that it is worth going an extra mile  to get great results instead of just good. And that it is not the point how much money, but how much effort (thought and work) you invest into your projects. I can tell you, this was a simple excersize but I learnt a lot more than I was expecting…

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