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Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

There is nothing more satisfying than creating a large print of an object that is normally tiny to the naked eye. Macro photography is one of the most popular forms of photography with its broad genre. Photographers are able to capture anything from macro shots of flowers, insects, leaves, water droplets, and seeds from a dandelion floating through the air without leaving their own backyard. Years ago, this was only achievable with several very expensive pieces of camera equipment that needed to be attached to your camera, or carried with you and set up for your macro photo shoot. But now, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to capture really big shots of tiny subjects using a compact digital camera or DSLR. Here are some great tips to help you get started with macro photography. The Right Camera When it comes to macro photography, you can’t go wrong with either a DSLR or mirrorless camera from  When comparing the two, DSLR’s are ideal because they have a large variety of available macro lenses and accessories. But mirrorless cameras can be used with several DSLR lenses if you are willing to use an adapter. One thing that is extremely helpful with macro photography is having a live view on the LCD so you can see exactly how you have the image framed. The slightest movements can lead to extreme shifts in your composition with macro photography. So it’s helpful to have instantaneous feedback. Equipment While not the cheapest option, a macro lens, or close-up lens, is the best option from a quality standpoint. Other options are close-up filters or extension tubes.  Lenses with longer focal lengths provide bigger minimum focusing distance and shallower depth of field. A tripod that can be fine tuned easily to make the tiniest of adjustments, sometimes as small as a millimeter, is a must for macro photography. A remote release or self-timer function will help minimize camera shake caused by photographer.  Some cameras offer a mirror lock-up function that helps with this instead. If planning to use flash, your on-camera flash will be too harsh for small subjects. Try a ring flash or a softbox. Consider a moveable clamp like a plamp for holding flowers when shooting flower macros. It also comes in handy for holding reflectors or backgrounds.   Camera Settings Just about all digital cameras and DSLRs have a selectable macro mode. This makes it nice and simple. However, by engaging in macro mode on most digicams, you usually lose control of the lens aperture and shutter speed. When shooting macro photography, you need to be using the smallest lens aperture to gain the optimum image sharpness and depth of field. With DSLRs macro modeis a little different. It will command the lens aperture to close to its minimum extending the depth of field, which allows you to move closer to your subject. After you become more comfortable shooting macro photography, and are ready to increase your budget in this area, add a macro lens to your DSLR for optimal results. For maximum control over depth of field while automatically setting the correct exposure, use aperture priority mode.  However, for full control over the exposure, use manual mode instead. To help you decide which aperture to use, meaning which parts of your subject you want in sharp focus, and which you want to blur, use the depth of field preview function. For minimum noise, use the lowest ISO possible. Set your white balance manually. Do not use auto white balance so you have more creative options regarding colors and the mood you are trying to convey. Better yet, simply shoot in RAW, and play with the white balance during post editing. Take full control over your focusing by using manual focusing over autofocusing. Composition Begin by deciding what you want to emphasize about your subject, and then try shooting from various angles until you achieve the most interesting results. Even though your background will most likely be a blur of color, check to make sure that color relates to your subject. You may even want to try adding your own background with collage paper. It is easier to experiment with your composition if you use live view while shooting. You can see if you need to add elements, replace elements, or re-frame the photo all together during the shoot instead of afterwards.   These are just some general macro photography tips to get you started. It’s a good idea to start with still life such as flowers so you can try different camera settings, lighting conditions, and composition setups. Once you master these, you will be ready to move on to insects, small animals or other moving objects.    
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