Simply defined, macro photography is extremely close-up photography, usually of very small subjects and minute and miniature things, focusing on the detailed capture of tiny subjects. Although the term ‘macro photography’ technically refers to the art of making very large photographs, it can often be related to a condition where the size of the subject itself on the image censor or negative is life size or greater, ultimately a finally resulting in an image of a larger than life size photograph.
Although macro photography may surround a simple and straight forward concept, it is not without its potential challenges. As photography enthusiasts well on your way to aspiring photographers, it is of utmost importance that the technicalities of macro photography be revised and understood in order to lead to the eventual possibility of producing outstanding photographic results.
In this post we shift the focus of our photography section entirely towards macro photography, presenting our anxious readers with ten simple and super effective tips on how to learn, improvise and master macro photography. We’ve compiled technical knowledge along with a level of personal involvement that will best compliment your devotion to learn the basics that go into mastering this kind of photography and result in the creation of breath-taking macro imagery. One you’re done going through our macro photography tips, check out the stunning collection of 30 beautiful macro photographs we’ve collected right below.
1. Perfect Your Subject
First and foremost, you as a visual and observation individual must ensure that your subject is the ideal candidate for macro photography. As you will be shooting at such close proximity of your subject, it is important to bear in mind that every single detail of your subject will be in maximum focus, hence a subject free of unwanted imperfections is most preferable, unless of course, you particularly intend to capture these imperfections. For example, conventionally speaking, a macro shot of a fresh rose petal would make for far more appealing a photograph as compared to a wilting and tearing petal.
2. Rise and Shine
Whether you’re a morning person or not, waking up early in the morning is almost a holy commandment in the art of macro photography. Many subjects tend to be less active early in the mornings due to the temperature drop and slow inactivity, while flowers and foliage are fresh from the morning bloom, this makes them easier and more pleasant to photograph. Mornings will also present you with a stunning sprinkle of due which generally results in breath-taking macro photographs.
3. Lighting is Key
Natural light is the best kind of light you can use for this type of photography, although it is not always available in certain surroundings and during certain times of the day. Your built-in camera flash is the least desirable source of lighting and we would strongly advice against it. Rather, try using a rung flash, which provides for an even spread of light. Using reflectors is also a good idea as they bounce off light and fill in shadows quite well, manageably lighting up your shot. Reflectors are widely available and can just as easily be made from a solid sheet of white paper. Quick tip: using backlighting can give your macro images amazing effects.
4. Close Up and Isolate
Try to get pretty close to your subject, but you don’t always need to just frame whatever is in front of you. Instead, experiment with your composition by perhaps isolating a certain part of your subject and directing your focus entirely towards that part. This is a way to obtain interesting and abstract photographs that are well composed and interestingly framed. Aesthetically adding some space between you and your subject can bring out some great shots.
5. Shake off the Shake
This is of the utmost importance and we cannot stress this enough – never, ever shake the camera. Shaking of the camera results in unsharp and unclear photographs and blurry photographs are the most noticeable and visually displeasing. Camera shake is an intentional form of havoc which can effectively be avoided with the use of a tripod. This will ensure your photos are well focused, crisp and sharp.
6. Use Manual Focus
When it comes to macro photography, manual focus is always the better choice over auto focus. Auto focus tends to shift focus entirely towards either the front or the back of the frame. Manual focus will provide for more precise photographs. If you’re used to working with auto focus, switching to manual focus will take some getting used to but will be well worth it in the long run.
Live subjects such as birds and subjects are often always in motion and generally in a hurry to get going. For this reason, it is always better to pre-focus on your subject quickly and swiftly so as to produce timely focused images before your subject runs off and you lose that perfect frame. Pre-focus is most convenient and efficient if you plan all your shots according to this pre-focused state by adhering to the same distance and position from your subject for all your shots for best results.
8. Polarising Filter
Using a polarizing filter while photographing ensures that the photo of your subject looks the same as your subject in reality, giving your photographs an extra punch in the process. A polarizing filter can easily be attached to the lens but it may slow down your shutter speed, in which case a tripod would be ideal to the avoid the shake and blur that would result from using your camera hand held.
Shhh. Quite literally, stay quiet. Keeping noises at a minimum and working in a silent and swift manner will prevent your subjects from being startled and running off. This is a very important point if you want to take nicely framed and well focused photographs, because once you startle off your subject with even the slightest of rattle, you’ll need all the luck in the world to get them to stay still and natural enough for you to be able to photograph them.
Wind Be Gone
Be sure to pick a calm and still day without any wind or breeze when you decide to go out to do macro photography. Being as it is, unintentional camera shakes are difficult to avoid, therefore even what may initially seem like a light breeze will eventually set you off your camera if you’re not careful. Wind is your worst enemy. As weather is unpredictable and a gush of wind may surprise your carefully planned photography trip, you could try to fix up your subject (although this should be avoided as it disturbs the natural balance of things and may result in uninteresting shots), shelter it, or most preferably, simply wait for the wind to stop blowing. Setting fast shutter speed provided your location is well lit may be effective subject to circumstances.
Now that we’ve covered a bunch of very useful tips on shooting effective macro photography, go through our collection of the 30 of some of the best macro photographs on the web to inspire you to get started.
If you want to learn more on digital photography, here are 8 Essential Photography E-Books to become expert.