Shooting Challenge: Creative Sunshine Macros

Magazine-quality studio macro shots are gorgeous. Small objects with exquisite detail and perfect lighting. Well, what's so insane about those photos is that they can be duplicated at high noon with nothing more than the sun and a foil reflector.

The Challenge

Duplicate the tutorial's methodology to create a glowing, studio-quality macro shot with little more than the sun.


The Technique

If you don't have a macro lens, feel free to participate and just get as close as you can with your lens.


But what I love about this video tutorial (via PetaPixel) is that if you watch the whole thing, you'll realize what a stunning, professional, studio-quality macro photo that you can get smack dab in the middle of what most of us would consider unusable lighting.

You don't need to drop fruit in water (though you can!), but you should use your own reflector (fashion one out of tin foil and cardboard) and a colored backdop of some sort (though something like wood might not make the worst less-studio-ish alternative). I'm guessing that the water itself does add a certain extra edge to this technique, but I'm perfectly open to judge entries without long as we're talking about planned studio-style shots, not just "I took a macro of a flower."


This challenge is about making the most of an unideal situation through planning.

The Example

Make sure to watch through that lead tutorial video to see the resulting photo. (Also, how often do you get to appreciate three straight minutes of the singular most epic lack-of haircut in the world blowing gently in the wind?) It's fantastic: a company would pay for this level of product photography, yet it only costs about $5 in materials and a few minutes in time. And if you like the tutorial, I'm sure the makers would appreciate a visit to their site.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, Jan 9th at 10AM Eastern to with "Sunshine" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameSunshine.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameSunshineWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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