It may seem daunting at first, but macro
photography really isn’t so different from other kinds once you get a graps of the basics.
Here are some tips for macro photography
Step 1: Raindrops Photography
After rain can be an excellent time to search for macro subjects when everything is dripping with droplets of rain water.
Go in close to show how the raindrops act as miniature lenses, magnifying the veins in leaves.
Step 2: Backgrounds
Add different coloured backgrounds to macro shots to change the look of the subject.
These four backgrounds were all natural subjects but shot deliberately out of focus. Grass was used, and tree foliage and a combination of bushes and sky.
They were printed to A3 on matt paper so there was less risk of reflection when placed behind the subject, especially if a mirror or flashgun was to be used to expose the image.
Step 3: Butterflies / Insects
With small but lively subjects like butterflies, it can be difficult getting close enough to them for frame-filling shots.
Try stalking them later in the day, just as they are about to settle down for the night.
Step 4: Check LCD Panel
Use your rear LCD facility to ensure
you have got the shot you want before moving on. Look carefully at the corners to make sure there are no intrusions.
Tidy up any unwanted debris in the scene and make sure that your composition concentrates on your subject as intended. It’s also wise to carry a spare battery, as constantly reviewing shots will drain power.
Step 5: Point of Focus
It is imperative to consider the actual
point of focus when working close-up with tiny subjects. You can dramatically change the appearance by where you chose to focus.
These two shots of the same teasle head were both shot at the same maximum aperture, but the point of focus was changed by a couple of millimetres to produce an entirely different effect.
Step 6: Macro Pattern Compositions
Although we can crop things using
software later, it is best to fine-tune composition in-camera at the time of shooting as much as possible.
With close-up pattern details, ensure they either fill the frame completely so that there are no gaps around the edges.
Alternatively show the entire pattern with space all around it.
These two shots of the same fungus illustrate how these opposite approaches look in practice
Step 7: Use Apertures to Control Depth of Field
To get the most out of available depth of field, select a small aperture like f/16 or even f/22.
You will find that at half-life size the depth of field you can achieve at f/22 will be only around 15mm at best.
On the other hand you may wish to go to the other extreme and show as little sharpness as possible by opening up to full aperture like f/2.8 or f/4.
One advantage of the latter option is that any out-of-focus highlights will show as circle-like bubbles that can look very attractive.
Step 8: Make a Standard Zoom Focus Closer
Extension tubes fit between the rear
mount of the lens and the camera body to make the lens focus closer and therefore produce a much bigger image of a small subject.
This image of a thick-legged flower beetle was shot with an 18-200mm zoom lens and a 20mm extension tube added. This is a much cheaper alternative than buying a macro lens but tubes are more fiddly to use in the field.
Also, with an extension tube fitted you lose the infinity end of your focusing range. Add more tubes and this becomes increasingly more limited.