Hand-held macro photography presents a lot of challenges, but three of the most prevalent are: subject movement, camera shake, and harsh shadows. Fortunately, you don’t have to carry around a bunch of gear to solve these issues. In fact, a cheap plastic cup will do the trick all by itself!
First, the setup. You’ll need some plastic cups, scissors, your camera, and (optional) some gaffer’s tape:
Once you have all that, just cut a hold in the bottom of the cup that is big enough to just barely fit over your lens. If you do a good job, says Linaschke, it’ll snap right now!
He chose to use some gaffer’s tape because the cup cracked after repeatedly snapping it onto and off of his Panasonic LUMIX 45mm f/2.8 lens, but it’s up to you whether or not you want to copy him there.
Once it’s attached, you can get to shooting. Just set the cup over your subject and snap away — all three of your problems are solved. If the subject is moving, they’re now trapped; if you’re shaking, you now have an extra point of stabilization without lugging around a tripod; and the clear cup acts as a diffuser that softens any harsh light:
Here are a few samples:
Linaschke does point out that your lens size could be a limitation. The larger the lens, the larger the cup you need, and you may need to stack cups for some added distance. But any challenges you run across should be easily overcome with a bit of ingenuity.
To read the more detailed step-by-step tutorial for yourself, head over to Lynda by following the link below. And if you want more macro photography tips and tricks, check out Linaschke’s “Photography 101: Macro and Close-up Photography” video.
Image credits: Photographs by Joseph Linaschke and used with permission