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Tips for Perfecting Your Macro Photography Technique

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Macro photography is a photography technique that involves focusing on small objects to make them look larger than they are. It works to enhance details and can have a terrific avant garde effect. It is ideal for taking pictures of insects, flowers and other objects found in nature, but it can be used on just about any type of subject matter.

Achieving a great macro look does not come easily. Here are some tips that will help you become a master at this technique.

Get the Right Magnification

The best magnification for macros is 1:1. This will occur when one inch of the subject is projected onto one inch of the camera sensor. Higher magnifications may also be considered macro.

Get a Dedicated Macro Lens

Nowadays, most cameras have a macro mode that allows photographers to get great close ups. You can also do a fake macro by cropping the picture to make it look magnified. But for best results, you will want to get a dedicated macro lens.

Macro lenses are not cheap and in general, the more you spend, the higher quality lens you will get. It is a worthwhile investment if this is the type of photography you would like to pursue.

Choose the Right Subject

Finding the right subject is also important. You don’t want to choose something that becomes abstract when photographed in macro. The shot will be more enjoyable if people know what they are looking at. In general, jewelry, small dolls and household items will be ideal. Insects are commonly photographed in macro, but they are more challenging to capture as they move and may fly away when you’re trying to shoot. It is best to shoot from a distance, so you don’t scare them off.

Use Longer Focal Lengths

Lenses with longer focal lengths will be ideal for living subjects in macro. That way, you can get great shots without getting too close. Anything above 90mm should work.

Use the Right Accessories

Your macro lens will help you get great shots, but there are other accessories that will get your photos to come out that much better. One example is the diopter or poor man’s macro lens. It is basically a magnifying glass that screws onto the lens for enhanced magnification.

Bellows or tubes are accordion like accessories that help you get tight close ups. Lens adapters can be used for a similar effect allowing you to reverse your lens and control the aperture manually.

Tripods may come in handy, but they will be restrictive. It’s best to use an alternate third hand device to steady your camera.

Create the Right Background

The ideal background for macro is a contrasting color that is located far from the subject. This will produce a lovely blur. This will be easy to achieve if you are shooting an inanimate object, but it will be harder if you are out in nature. If this is the case, you may want to position your subject to provide the right effect against the background.

Pay Attention to Depth of Field

Macro photography typically requires smaller apertures (larger f stop numbers) that increase depth of field so objects are in focus. However, small apertures can also cause diffracted light that can blur your image. Achieving the right balance is key, but it’s not easy to do. Getting creative with angles can help to this end.  

Another option is to decrease your magnification and use a smaller aperture, then crop the picture in editing. However, smaller apertures can reduce light making it necessary to use slower shutter speeds to allow for optimal light exposure. You may also want to use a flash. Focus stacking can also be used. This is a feature that is built into some cameras and can also be accomplished with Photoshop.

Get the Right Lighting

When it comes to macro photography, the right lighting is essential. It will show the details that make images pop. For optimal lighting, use a ring flash and set your camera to fast shutter speeds for moving objects.

Improve Your Composition

The composition of your photography can make all the difference in getting a standout shot. While cropping later on can help, it can also decrease photo resolution. Get it right the first time by making sure your photos are properly framed before clicking the shutter.

Concentrate on Your Point of Focus

When shooting macro, your focus won’t be on the object itself but on one specific detail. Deciding where your focus is will help you get better shots. Your focus can also change throughout the shoot to offer different perspective.

Be Patient

Macro photography is not easy, and it may take time before you start getting shots you are happy with. Keep at it. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Now that you are armed with these macro photography tips, what will you be shooting in an up close and personal manner?

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