The first time you look through a macro lens tends to evoke “oohs” and “aahs” because you notice details you never noticed before. However, macro photography involves a whole new level of patience and precision. If you want to consistently deliver quality images, you’re going to have to work for it!
Macro vs Micro Photography
“Macro” means big and “micro” means small, but in photography, they both refer to making small things look bigger. It’s simply a matter of scale. Macro photography is extreme close-up photography that generally requires a special lens. An ordinary camera cannot focus on a subject in extreme close-up without a macro lens. A common rule of thumb is that macro photography reproduces the subject on at least a 1:1 scale so that the image is life size or larger. Micro photography is at the extreme end of the spectrum, and involves capturing images of things that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Close Down Your Aperture
The closer you get to your subject, the shallower your depth of field will be. When you’re shooting twelve inches away from your subject with a Sony Macro Lens
from Beachcamera.com, f/11 is a good place to start as you get accustomed to doing macro work. You’ll want to keep all critical details in focus but avoid emphasizing background clutter that distracts from your subject. Manage the noise
Watch your ISO. Light loss when working at close focusing distances is considerable, and you’ll have to close down significantly to get more than a sliver of your subject in focus. This means you’re either going to have to bump your ISO or reduce your shutter speed for crisp, clean images. Brace Yourself
So you’ve closed down your aperture, are holding firm at a reasonably low ISO, and you’re probably stuck with a slower shutter speed than you’re used to. Camera shake will yield soft focus when shooting macro photography, so buy yourself a tripod. If you’re working at a shutter speed longer than one second, consider using your timer, or remote to fire the shutter.
Switch to Manual
By manually focusing your Sigma Telephoto Zoom Lens
from Beachcamera.com, you have precise control over which details are sharpest. In most cases, don’t even attempt to allow the camera to autofocus. Rotate the focus ring until nothing is in focus, then gradually adjust it until your subject pops into focus. Manual focus is often painstaking business, and it’s another good reason to work on a tripod. Shoot in Bursts
When working with razor-thin depth of field or handholding, focus can be elusive. Try setting your camera from your Nikon Camera
to burst mode and fire off several shots in succession while barely adjusting your focus ring. Odds are, one will be in perfect focus.
Macro Flower Photography
The warmer weather means more opportunities for one of the popular styles of macro photography
: macro flower photography. With a dedicated macro lens, you can create some artful photographs in your backyard. If you're going to shoot under the sun, avoid the midday hours. This will cast a harsh and unflattering light. If you’re shooting in a darkened environment, like under large leaves, in between flowers, etc. your shutter speed can be affected causing some unwanted camera shake/blur. Additionally, if you're shooting with a dedicated macro lens, you'll probably be using a higher-than-normal f/stop to get the entire flower in focus. All of the above may cause you to have to bump up your ISO to get a sharp image. When you're choosing how to frame your macro flower photo, try to explore different vantage points. Typically, macro flower photos are captured at eye level, which doesn't set the stage for a unique photo. Instead, try standing directly overhead or get down low and shoot up towards the sky. Try including other flowers in your background instead of singling out just one. A great technique to use in macro flower photography is to use a water spray bottle to replicate morning mist. This works fantastic when combined with a wide aperture.
Macro Photography Ideas
If you take a look around where you’re standing right now, you’ll find a few potential subjects that will give you interesting macro photography ideas. So here are some ideas for when you’re stuck indoors or if you just want to try your hand at macro photography.
• Because of their inner transparency, citrus fruits show some amazing patterns when sliced and backlighted.
• If you look at wood close enough you’ll see amazing details like grain and texture.
• If wood is an amazing subject for macro photography, burned out wood or the ashes leftover are even more fascinating
. • The way light reflects on shiny objects is always a good experiment in photography, and macro photography is not an exception.
• Finally, eyes always make compelling subjects. Shoot close ups of the eyes of your dog, cat or a person!
While there are a lot of things to remember when learning macro photography, practice helps make it a habit.