It’s hard for photography enthusiasts to not consider trying their hand at macro photography. The results you often see when you look up on macro photography, are so enthralling you can’t be blamed if you’re tempted to have a go even if you’re an amateur. As you venture into macro photography you’ll learn that patience is a virtue you’ll need a gallon of, but the outcome of it all will sure be worth the effort. In addition to this, knowing a few practical tips on macro photography will surely not hurt. Read on to know some!
1. Choosing a Subject
The purpose of macro photography is to portray tiny objects in a size four to five times larger than their original size. Regularly exploring places around you such as parks and botanical gardens, and being attentive to the little things you see around you can give you many ideas for choosing a subject for macro photography. A few of the popular ones are flower, bugs, and parts of plants. These can give fascinating results even in abstract photography. While considering other objects like feathers, gravel, shells, dew drops; it’s good to get a bit more creative and look for things with beautiful colours, textures and most importantly patterns. Objects with interesting patterns on them make for very engaging macro photographs and abstract images.
2. Selecting a Lens
If you’ve ever tried taking a regular 50mm lens close to an object to get a macro photograph, you must have realized that a regular lens fails to focus at such close distances. You also risk scaring your little subjects away. Which brings us to macro lenses. Macro lenses available in the market, are dedicated to aid in capturing the best macro shots. Most of them have 1:1 magnification or higher and come in focal lengths between 90-105mm, which allows you to shoot from a comfortable distance. To be able to shoot from a longer working distance 180mm lenses are a good choice, whereas if you don’t mind getting really close to your subjects, there are lenses of shorter focal lengths such as 50mm or 60mm. 1:1 magnification means that when you focus as closely as possible, your subject is as big on the sensor as it is in real life.
An alternative to using a macro lens is getting extension tubes which come in a range of extensions from 8-35 mm. You could also get a close-up attachment which is a flat, filter-like lens that mounts to the front of your normal lens and allows you to focus more closely.
3. Using a Tripod
While photographing objects which are static a good, sturdy tripod is recommended. You can use a tripod with legs that splay allowing you to photograph closer to ground level or get yourself a tripod that has a reversible head stern that allows the camera to hang facing down under the tripod. While on one hand some consider using a tripod great help, where on the other hand there are photographers who believe in doing away with one especially while shooting insects on flowers and other objects as such which are disturbed easily.
The most important part of close-up photography is to be in control of the aperture. You can set your aperture using your camera’s manual mode or aperture priority mode. If you choose manual mode, you will also have to select the shutter speed. Choosing aperture priority will save you the bother of choosing the shutter speed, by selecting the shutter speed for you.
5. Right Lighting and Using the Flash
Most photographers swear by shooting on a bright, overcast day, as this lights your subject evenly and you don’t have to use a slow shutter speed. In case the situation demands that you use an external light source, using your camera’s built-in pop-up flash is still a no-no as it may cast a shadow of parts of your gear. Your external flash should have a head that rotates and elevates. While using an external flash, it is recommended that you use a diffuser between the flash and your subject.
Autofocus rarely works well with macro photography. Opting for manual focus will get you sharper macro pictures. Photographers prefer using an f-stop no larger than f/16 to get all or most of the main subject in focus. Also, playing with the focus point can give you startlingly different results with the same subject.
7. Depth of Field
When shooting macro photography, using a narrow depth of field results in pictures where the background is a soft blur and the subject is sharp and in focus. Choose a simple background so it doesn’t compete with the main subject for a viewer’s attention.
8. Pictures With a Twist
Get creative with macro photography by shooting the subject from an angle different from the usual. Try different lighting, as well, using front lighting for deeper color saturation and side lighting to highlight texture.