Controlling Wash Out in Macro Photography


Introduction: Controlling Wash Out in Macro Photography

About: Working my dream job in the Telecom industry, so chances are, i'll never have time to respond to comments or messages, nothing personal.

One of the problems with macro mode on many digital cameras is the flash washes out details. The best way to control this is, of course, to avoid using the flash or us an accessory light like the one Whiteoakart linked to in the brilliant instructable However if you do need flash, and your cheap POS camera has poor flash metering here's what to do.

First you'll need
1(one) Cheap Digital Camera
1(one) sheet mailing labels
1(one) pair scissors

Step 1: Step One

Take up sheet of mailing labels in your left hand, sinister people may chose to use the right hand.

Step 2: Step Two

Peel off 1 (one) mailing label

Step 3: Step Three

Trim mailing label to a shape that approximates the flash aperture on you camera. Apply mailing labal over flash on camera. CAUTION!! Do not obscure any orifices located adjacent to flash.

Pictures omitted for clarity.

Step 4: Step Four

Repeat picture.



    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Clocks Contest

      Clocks Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    "sinister people may chose to use the right hand"
    Best Latin joke to hit Instructables yet.

    ingenious! On my camera, I have enough room on either side of the flash to use thin strips of masking tape to hold a small square of tracing paper over the flash. It works well as a filter. Is it hard removing the label?

    3 replies

    It gets progressively harder, after a couple hours it just peels off, couple days, you work at it, and after a few years (I just tried peeling off the label stuck on my Olympus d 340) it's hopeless. White post it notes might be a better option, come to think of it.

    Heh, you might want to include that into your Instructable!

    try using rubbing alcohol, it dissolves adhesive well.

    Of course, if you understand how to set proper exposure on your camera (look up exposure triangle) you will avoid all these problems. Just my two bits, not trying to sound snobbish.

    I realize that this is a long time after the last comment but this might help some people have greater control of their flash; I use cigarette papers. They are easy to carry and they are easy to learn how much each paper diminishes the flash, doubling or tripling them gives greater diffusions. You can hold them over the flash tight or lose, at an angle for partial 'bounce' and throw them out when done. You can also wet the edges just a little to make them stick to the sides of your camera. I no longer smoke but when I did I smoked rolling tobacco out of a pipe so I had cigarette papers laying around unused everywhere. (I made mini paper airplanes out of them too, lol).

    1 reply

    yeh im a non smoker that uses this trick aswell! a single pack of papers will easily fit into any camera bag or just your pocket and tearing/cutting them in half doubles your uses! lick and stick if your goinf to be taking a lot of pics. also eliminated and sticky residue on your flash or possibility of burning the sticky gum onto your flash. another good thing about this is when i was at a music festival i was never more than 2meters away from someone willing to give (or lend) me a paper.

    I have tried it
    **** EXCELLENT **** ****** AWESOME **** results
    Thanks for the very great idea ..

    I saw somewhere (don't remember now) a guy somehow used a cigarette package to slide over the top of his DSLR flash for a light diffuser. Although he either took the inside out of the outside and used one of the two that was thinner. But I thought that cigarette pack insides were foil. (Don't know, don't smoke. But it was another method without using tape.

    I like this idea of tempering the flash for macro shots.

    I have learned with my Largan VGA cameras to hold my finger partially over the flash. The flash is so wimpy on these units that you won't even get a warm feeling.

    Warning: your mileage (and flash wattage) may vary, so be careful.

    Nice. Typically, I just turn the flash off and use a longer exposure. If you don't have a tripod, balance the camera carefully and use a delayed shutter so it's done wiggling by picture time.

    Nice tip. I agree that a different material might work better over the long term.

    Here are two ideas, one quick and dirty, one longer term.

    1. I knew a photographer who when shooting party pics with an external, 35mm film camera mounted flash (this was many years ago), simply taped a tracing paper, (Hoopajoo, you're idea validated by a pro!) onto the flash. The strip of tape was at the top, the tissue simply hung loosely over the "lens of the flash. Presumably she peeled if off soon after the shoot.

    2. Make a more permanent flash diffuser you can keep in your camera bag.
    My first thought, being an inveterate salvager, is to cut a piece of translucent plastic bottle, commonly (over?) used for milk and juice in the U.S.

    Hm, I'm liking this more as I think about it. I will struggle to prevent this from pre-empting my resume overhaul! If it works, I'll replace the fuzzy pics of my magnetic photo holder. it'll even qualify for the T-day contest! ;)

    Adhesives of different types, as most of us have experienced, have different, time-related characteristics. A 3M rep told me that many of their tapes are the same material, but with different "initial strength" qualities. The extremes being Post-it notes, low initial strength with low developed strength, their "structural adhesive" tapes have high initial strength, and so, do not develop much strength over time. Those pesky labels on the other hand...there's always Goof Off, I guess. My mom uses cooking oil, which works slowly on food jar labels with stubborn adhesive.

    So basically, you cover the flash with a label, to tone it down? Good idea!