August 20, 2007 HelpLine
Macro Flash On The Cheap
Q) I've been playing around with the macro feature on my compact digital camera. I have some nice shots, but now I'm trying to work with a flash. All of the shots I have so far are pretty disappointing. The right edge of the scene always seems to miss the flash. What can I do?
Steve B., Rapid City, South Dakota
A) Some cameras have the ability to add macro flash attachments, but without knowing your camera model number, I have another suggestion. The built-in flash on your camera has a small, flat plastic lens on the front that helps focus the light. Unfortunately, it focuses the light along a somewhat narrow angle so the light can extend the distance typically needed to capture people-somewhere around six to 12 feet. This means that when you shoot macro, part of the image isn't illuminated.
The solution is to diffuse the light so it spreads out more. You can try to do this with paper or a handkerchief, but another great tool is to use a Styrofoam coffee cup. Hold the cup over your camera's flash and take the picture. It doesn't matter which end you hold against the camera. I use the open end against the camera-it seems more "professional" (I'm kidding). Just make sure you don't interfere with the lens or any autofocus illuminator on the front of your camera.