10 Tips To Become Pro In Macro Photography

1: Get a good macro lens

Macro lens with long focal length

While today’s cameras offer a macro mode in the menu or analog settings, they don’t offer as much as 1:1 magnification. If you want magazine or gallery-quality macro pictures, you’ll need to purchase a dedicated macro lens for your camera. There’s a wide array of Canon macro lenses on the market that offers 1:1 magnification and above for your Canon camera. You might be taken aback by some of their price tags, but they’re definitely worth the investment for greater quality macro shots.

Bonus tip: If you plan on shooting flat objects such as coins, stamps, use a “flat-field” macro lens to ensure edge-to-edge sharpness.

2: Choose a suitable subject

Macro shot of pencil tip

Contrary to popular belief, not everything will make for a good macro subject. There are certain subjects that are indiscernible when viewed close up and without context—and if your viewer can’t understand what they’re looking at when they see your macro shot, how can they appreciate it? But of course, this is all a question of preference and aesthetics. If the subject you photographed appears confusing in macro but is still aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, then it definitely qualifies as a suitable subject.

Common subjects include small insects, butterflies, rain drops, and small objects such as miniature dolls, jewelry, and household items. Inanimate objects are fairly easy to photograph as they don’t move, but insects and bugs can be a lot more challenging. One key tip for photographing them is to shoot from a safe distance to avoid scaring them off.

3: Use a longer focal length for living subjects

Close up shot of small frog on plant

Speaking of lenses, you may want to go for those that offer longer focal lengths, depending on your subject of choice. This allows you to “digitally” move in closer (without actually having to move closer) when photographing insects and objects close-up without disturbing them or disrupting their natural environment. The best focal length for these types of situations should be anything above 90mm, such as the Tokina AT-X 100mm f/2.8 PRO D Macro Lens ($399).

While Nikon macro lenses don’t offer the same maximum magnification as Canon macro lenses yet, there are available connective lens accessories—such as tubes or bellows—for Nikon and other camera brands that help extend the lens for more reach.

4: Incorporate assistive accessories

Colorful macro shot of butterfly on flower

Even without a dedicated macro lens, you can achieve good macro shots with assistive accessories that can be incorporated into your macro kit. There’s what they call a diopter, which is also known as the “poor man’s macro lens.” It’s basically close-up filter or magnifying glass that is screwed on to your regular lens or to any bridge or compact camera to achieve macro magnification without having to purchase a true macro lens.

Bellows or tubes are the accordion-like, expandable part of a camera that helps achieve ultra-tight close ups on your subject. You can also get lens adapters that allow you to reverse your lens and manually control the aperture.

Instead of using a tripod, which can be quite restrictive for the photographer, you can use “third hand” devices (anything you can create or devise with the available tools you have to create a literal “third hand”) for holding and supporting your subjects steadily and against your desired background.

5: Customize your background

Macro shot of raindrops on flower

Shooting inanimate objects is fairly easy as you can have complete control over the positioning, lighting, and even your background. Simply place it against your desired background, depending on your composition, and make sure they don’t clash with each other. Many photographers prefer to keep it simple by positioning their subject in front of a contrasting background that’s located farther away from the subject, so it comes off as a beautiful background blur.

If you’re spontaneously shooting outdoors, you may not have that much control over your background. However, you can change your perspective or maybe use that “third hand” support for positioning your object, such as a leaf or flower, to face you from another angle.

6: Pay attention to your depth of field

Diamond ring up close

Most people will advise you to use smaller apertures (a larger f-stop number) as this helps increase your depth of field and ensure that the important parts of your subject are in sharp focus. However, the problem with using a smaller aperture is that the reduced and diffracted light can greatly affect the sharpness of your image. On the other hand, if you use too large of an aperture, you end up with less depth of field, which means that some parts of your subject may end up blurred out as well.

One of the hardest parts in doing macro photography is achieving the right balance between desired sharpness and depth of field. If you are able to shoot from a perspective or angle that allows you to fit the most important or interesting parts of your subject on a single plane of focus, which ensures that your subject remains sharp while still maintaining beautiful background bokeh, then it’s all a matter of finding the largest aperture that will allow you to do that without leaving your subject blurred out in certain parts.

Or if you don’t mind cropping your image, you can also decrease your magnification and use a smaller aperture to ensure that all parts of your subject are sharp, then simply crop the photo to make your subject appear more magnified. However, a challenge in using smaller apertures is that it restricts more light from coming into the lens, which means you’ll often need slower shutter speeds to be able to properly expose your shot. Depending on the photographer, the solution can be using a tripod for a steadier shot or using flash to add more light to the scene.

Another recommended solution to the problem of balancing depth of field and sharpness is focus stacking, which is a built-in feature in a select number of cameras. If you don’t have this feature, it can also be accomplished in Photoshop.

7: Create better lighting

Macro shot of coffee beans

A key component in photography is light, and macro photographers obviously greatly benefit from having good lighting conditions. Aside from using it to artistically improve your shots, you can add light to support your exposure settings, such as when the subject is still too dark despite having a wide open aperture.

Many macro photographers would advise beginners to use a ring flash to enable the use of smaller apertures, as well as faster shutter speeds for handheld shooting and moving objects.

Ring flashes or twin flashes offer good 3D lighting that is not as flat as built-in pop-up flashes.

8: Improve your in-camera composition

Macro shot of miniature human figures with pistachio nuts

Whether you’re shooting macro or any other photography style, a photographer should learn how to improve their composition in-camera. This means properly framing your subject before clicking the shutter instead of relying on post-processing to correct your composition. This can be quite crucial for macro photography, as cropping your shots decreases the photo resolution.

Instead of cropping a photo of an insect to make it look larger, increase your subject magnification while shooting so you get to keep your original resolution.

9: Plan your point of focus

Macro close up shot of raindrops on leaf

You have your shot ready, and all you’ll need to do is focus on your subject and click the shutter. But before you do, it helps to realize that in macro photography, your point of focus can greatly improve your composition.

One thing that can help you take better macro photos is to learn how to focus on different parts of the frame manually and to try to change your focus to provide different and interesting perspectives.

10: Be patient

Yellow leaf against a dark blue sky background bokeh

Macro photography can be a very rewarding style of photography, despite it being somewhat complicated for many beginners. While there are a lot of things to remember in order to achieve a good professional macro shot, practice helps make it a habit. Once you get used to it, it becomes a skill and you’d be well on your way to improving your shots with every click of the shutter.

Article Referred By : Adorama

Books You Can Refer To Master Macro Photography

Mastering Macro Photography

Understanding Close-up Photography

Focus On Close-Up and Macro Photography

A Totally Biased Close-Up and Macro Photography Book

Handbook of Nature Macro Photography

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