Photography is all about the way of handling and controlling light. It may be either the light falling on the subject or the light falling on the CCD/film. In most of the forms of Nature Photography, controlling the light falling on the subject may not be possible, in which case we need to control the light falling on the CCD to make the image how we want to portray. But in some cases it is possible to control the light falling on the subject and that opens up a Pandora's box of opportunities.
In macro photography it is not only the amount of light which matters but what also matters is the angle in which it falls on the subject. In most of the cases the angle defines the structures and gives more textured feel.
In the below series of images I will illustrate how does the angle of light change the feel of the image.
All the images were shot with/compensated for the same exposure values. I have used Nikon SB 600 flash for the experiment, with Body: D300 and lens: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. I have NOT applied sharpness for any of these images while processing and they are just out of the camera with only JPG conversion and resizing for web publication.
The below image was lit with flash almost perpendicular to the plane of the tree bark. Note that there are not much details visible on the bark. The image looks very flat and the moult of the Cicada is also not visually highlighted.
Now consider the below one where I have lit the bark from the top right corner. This highlights some of the textures which were not visible in the previous image. But still the image looks flat on the bottom portion.
In the next image I tried lighting from the bottom right. This added a bit more drama on the right side of the frame and the textures have come out good. The Cicada is also lit from the side and gives a better anchor for the visual. However the left part of the image went too dark and creates an uninteresting empty space.
This time I lit the bark from the bottom and almost at the center of the lower edge of the frame and close to the plane of tree. This created good amount of drama. The play of light and shadows created a nice feel to the image (at least for my taste!)
So we can see that, how the texture and feel differs depending on the angle of light falling on the subject. If you compare the first and the last image you can see a mammoth of difference in terms of the texture and feel of the image. If you had noticed carefully its the shadows which create drama and dynamism in these kind of images and to make the most use of it we need to experiment on the angle of light falling on the subject. If we cannot move the light source then we need to see if changing our shooting angle helps in creating this drama of light and shadow.
This is nothing new thought. Just an experiment from my side. You can read a related post by Ganesh H S - HERE .