Photography Hacks – Plastic Cup Macro

Shooting a macro image a hand-held camera can be a challenge. You are focusing on an object where, due to the very shallow depth of field with which you are dealing, the slightest movement of either the camera or the subject can throw it out of focus.

There is also the issue of camera shake and lighting. Enter the plastic cup! This novel little hack can make the process of shooting macro that much easier. You will need a plastic cup of course and scissors or a craft knife. The ever-useful duct tape will be required as well as your camera and the macro lens you are using. Firstly though, we need a little information.

The macro lens you are using will have a minimum focusing distance. In our case, we have a Canon EF100m f/2.8 macro lens, which has a minimum close focusing distance of about 150mm. A standard plastic cup is too small, but you can get a plastic cup capable of holding a pint that is tall enough for a lens of this focal length. Otherwise, you may have to stack cups to give you the extra distance from your subject or possibly use a plastic milk bottle to give you a larger volume with which to work.

The idea is to cut out the bottom of your plastic cup, tape it to the front of your macro lens and then attach it to your camera. You now have a tiny light tent attached to your lens/camera. You can place the cup over your subject, focus and shoot. If you’re outdoors, the cup acts as a little windbreak to stop your subject (a flower, for instance) from being blown about by the wind.

If you’re shooting in bright sunshine, the white translucent cup also acts as a diffuser to soften any harsh shadows. If you set the lip of the cup on the ground, or another surface, you also have a way of stabilising the camera while you take the shot.

Mark Frost

Mark started work as a commercial artist during the good old days of Letraset, spray mount and having to process your photos at a local chemist. Having discovered his passion for photography, Photoshop and the wonders of digital image manipulation, he has not looked back. He is well on his way to owning more cameras than he’s had hot dinners.

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