Macro Photography, 9 Tips
And now we move onto one of my favorite areas of photography, macro. Looking at the small bits of the big picture can often give us nice surprises and show those details we often miss and show us the really amazing complexity in nature. I am very often surprised when I get home and I look at a photo taken that day, expand to full size and see those colours, lines, shapes, expressions on bugs faces and all sorts. Things which the normal eyes do not really see. It is another world completely. Of course, as with all styles in photography, there are a few tips to get the most out of macro work. With all styles of photography, focus, composition, lighting, and backgrounds play a huge part, so always make these a priority.
As a general rule to getting ready and setting up, I usually do a few things by habit. Firstly light, where is it coming from, do I need more light or reduce light. Secondly, I look at what is behind my object. Is it close, far away, full of colours, bland, and will it enhance my photo? If these are all positive then I am good to go.
Now I look for the angle, wandering around, looking at everything I can. Once chosen, out comes the tripod. Set up the tripod securely, camera on and live view on. About now I alter the tripod position, height, and angle. I will also decide how much of the scene I want in focus. Do I want a blurry background or do I want the background part of the photo? Setting the camera aperture appropriately, I will then decide how much I want to zoom in. Now reduce the ISO for photo clarity, clear any rubbish from the frame and get ready to take the first photo.
All this before the ‘Take Picture’ button is pressed.
Now onto the tips
- Take your time. Set the camera, tripod and everything else to get your shot. Everything doesn’t have to be done in one second flat.
- Tripod. With a moving object, tripods rotate and move nice and smoothly. Holding a handle on a tripod while following a bug is a lot easier than holding a camera and massively reduces the chance for a blurred image. For a static object still, use a tripod.
- Use manual focus. You will have two things in your hands, the control arm on the tripod and the focus ring on your lens. Practice this at home, works very well.
- Clean up. If your object is static like a flower, clear any clutter away like leaves or rubbish.
- Lens. I use a 50mm but, I have used everything from 35mm to 300mm with no problems at all.
- A Clean Lens. Make sure the lens is clean. Carry a cloth.
- Take more than one shot. Try different angles as well. From below, above, the side, anywhere.
- Look at your shots. Look at your photos as you take them, zoom right in, check the focus. If they are not quite right, take them again.
- Composition. Be aware of this while taking the photo. The photo can be balanced and cropped later but, reduce the post-processing work for yourself.
- Have fun. The most important part, enjoy it. See a bugs face or a smiling spider only exposed when you get home. It really is an amazing world, the macro world.
There is an ideal kit list for macro photography but I am not going into that. The average person can not afford to go to the Amazon Jungle with 20k worth of camera kit so, in the real world, this tips list can apply to us all. The most important points in this list are focus, background, and lighting. Stick with these as your absolute bare minimum then add composition. Practice, practice, then a little more practice.
Enjoy and share.