Macro photography is a style of photography that magnifies the smallest parts of the world around us. It is generally recognized as “macro” when you are increasing the size of an object in your picture from about half life-sized, as represented on the image sensor, to five times life-sized.
Embrace the Bokeh
When shooting macro photography, you should use an f-stop no wider than f/16 to get all or most of the main subject in focus. If you are photographing a subject that can’t be arranged on the same plane, you will have to decide which parts of it you want in focus. Make sure to experiment with wider lens apertures; this will put more of the subject out of focus and may produce pleasing artistic effects. Using a narrow depth of field is unavoidable when capturing up-close images. This actually causes a pleasant result since the background will appear totally out of focus (bokeh) and you can use a natural setting to compose your picture. While you won’t have to worry much about what’s going on behind your subject, don’t forget to check for any distracting background elements. Macro photography is really successful when the image has a main point of interest and that point or subject is composed well within the frame. Choose a simple background so it doesn’t compete with the main subject for a viewer’s attention. Shooting flowers, leaves and insects outside can be a challenge. A perfectly composed shot can be quickly ruined by a slight breeze. Before you set up your shot, try planting a stick in the ground and tether the flower to it for stability. It also helps to use the fastest shutter speed possible along with a ring flash or flash units mounted to your lens if you’re shooting at a low aperture.
Tools to Capture the Tiny
You can also get creative with macro photography by shooting the subject from an unexpected angle or using different lighting. Try using front lighting for deeper color saturation and side lighting to highlight texture. A tool that will help in your macro photography is a close-up attachment. The close-up attachment is a flat, filter-like lens that mounts to the front of your normal lens (it usually screws into the filter thread) and allows you to focus more closely. You will be able to focus at closer distances, although the maximum magnification will depend on the focal length of the lens you’re attaching it to. A good, sturdy tripod is also an essential tool when capturing macro photography. There are two helpful options when it comes to tripod choices: a tripod with legs that are wide enough to allow a very low position or a tripod that has a reversible head stern that allows the camera to hang facing down under the tripod.
If you’re shooting outdoors, macro photography is most effective on bright days when you don’t have to use a very slow shutter speed. A bright, overcast day works especially well as it will also light your subject evenly. It is usually impractical to use your camera’s built-in pop-up flash when doing macro photography since the length of the lens (with or without the macro attachments) will cause a shadow from the camera’s flash. One solution is to use an external flash. The best type of external flash will have a head that rotates and elevates. It’s also important to remember that auto-focus doesn’t always work well when shooting extreme close-up photography. If possible, switch to manual focus and you’ll get more consistently sharp macro pictures.
And remember, if you find an insect or small creature that allows you to get close to it, start shooting! But make sure your settings are ready when capturing moving subjects; you may only get one shot.