A simple way to get great colour in your middle-of-the-day macro shots

It’s easy to get great natural looking colours in your macro shots, even in harsh, desaturated daylight. Just use a small, inexpensive gold reflector.

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My gold reflector was one the best bits of camera gear I ever got, and the cheapest too. I think I picked it up for about five dollars during a camera shop clearance sale. All it is, is a circle of golden shiny stuff. When sunlight bounces off it, it casts a beam that’s just like late-afternoon golden-hour light.

Gold reflector

Reflecting that extra light back into your scene makes the kind of strong light that makes macro work easy. In fact you might no longer need to use your flash, even when working hand-held. And of course that light is rich in the warm tones that make colours pop.

You can just hold the reflector in your spare hand, aiming it so the sun’s rays reach your subject, but I find it much easier to mount it on a stand. To do that I enlisted the help of an old tripod — it was one I got years ago and then never used because it was too lightweight and wobbly. I made a wire thing that turns the tripod handle into a reflector holder, which means I can aim it in any direction I want. My wire thing is even cheaper and wobblier than the tripod, but that’s fine because the reflector hardly weighs anything.

camera setup

Here it is being used to take that frog shot. The frog’s in that foliage somewhere just out of view from this angle.

People sometimes ask me how I get my colours into my photos. Well, now you know one of the ways.

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