When it comes to close-up photography, a ringlight is a valuable accessory. A ringlight fits over the camera's lens and can produce even (shadowless) or ratio (such as 1:2) lighting.
By rotating the ringlight and by turning off one of the flash tubes, you can create top, bottom and side lighting effects.
Most ringlights, such as the Canon MR-14EX model that I use, offer variable flash output control, meaning that you can adjust the light output so your flash picture does not look like a flash picture. Most also work in the TTL mode, making getting good exposures quite easy. Still, it's important to check your camera's histogram to ensure a good exposure.
Ringlights, as with all flashes, can cause reflections on a subject. In my red-eye tree frog image, the rightlight was reflected in the frog's eye. I easily removed it using the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop.
When using a ringlight, you may not need a tripod, even when photographing a fast moving subject. This is an advantage when photographing in places where a tripod is not allowed or not practical.
By the way, all these pictures were taken in my kitchen. The black background is one of my t-shirts. :-)
Here is a list of some close-up gear that can help you make great close-up pictures.
Here is an article I wrote on close-up photography. Enjoy!
Explore the light,