From a young age, we’re introduced to toys in one way or another. As we get older most of us ditch the toy soldiers or model cars for real ones in order to get to work, where our imagination can sometimes take a back seat. If you’re anything like me, though, you may still have a few old favorites tucked away in your loft – and a recent resurgence in creative home projects has seen people building dioramas to showcase their old (and new) figurines in a new way.
A common goal seems to be creating realistic scenes, with people using air blowers to kick up dirt and dust, or sparklers (outside) to create explosions or fires. Today I’m lucky enough to have my hands on an incredible macro lighting kit from Adaptalux, particularly its Sci-fi Kit that enables me to use a combination of its red and blue lights (white also comes in this pack).
Today I’ll be shooting on my office desk using my computer screen for a dark backdrop, and a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens.
Opening the box from Adaptalux I was immediately invigorated. I often shoot the same type of photography over and over again, so having something new to play with ignited a fire in my creativity. In the past, some new kit has felt overwhelming and needed days to get to grips with it, but this was straight out of the plug-and-play era, and that suits me down to a T.
I simply grabbed the LED hub (officially called the Control Pod 3.0), attached a couple of lighting arms, and boom – glorious red and blue lighting to my model (The Walking Dead's Rick Grimes) to bask in. Everything simply clicks into place with strong magnets, and the lighting arms are strong but flexible to keep your lighting exactly where you left it as you compose your shot.
Feeling pretty inspired by the prospect of shooting an entirely new genre of photography, and by how easy this was to set up, I found myself shooting some decent images inside just a few minutes of originally opening up the box.
Once you are set up, it's pretty easy to control everything you need; one quick press on the Control Hub's only button made the red light flash, and with the single dial around the button I could increase or decrease the power. Another short press would take me straight across to the blue light for any minor adjustments, and the diffusers could come on and off as I please.
Using magnets is such a great move – I personally hate screwing fixtures together only to get something cross-thread or stuck halfway on or off.
The main control hub will enable you to connect up to five lighting arms at any one time, so if your scene is lacking some natural tone you could bring in some white light to balance it out. All the arms will enable you to twist the bulb end for a wider or narrower spread of light, giving you very fine control of everything happening in the shot.
Although the Sci-fi Kit comes with white, red and blue lights, other colors are available as a single purchase if you wish to enhance your collection. Having a lower output meant that I could retain detail everywhere and set the perfect mood; I tried macro photography once before with flash and found it was too powerful, creating harsh highlights.
The main takeaway here for me is not just how well crafted and on point for its user base this Adaptalux kit is, but the fact that it has inspired me to easily delve into a totally new genre of photography and actually enjoy using it. Sometimes equipment can feel like a gimmick, but this felt like a necessity to start truly exploring the world of macro photography.