Macro photography has become very popular along with the release of affordable DSLR cameras and there’s a very good reason for it. Almost everyone can find the perfect setting for a macro picture, either if it’s a leaf with raindrops on it, an insect or simply a beautiful flower.
It also has the plus of removing the whole photogenic aspect of the environment, take a backyard, for example, it’s clearly not a photo studio but a macro picture of a beautiful butterfly can make one great photo. But what is macro photography more exactly? Here’s a list of all the elements that make a macro photo what it is.
Macro photography has a lot to do with the size of the object photographed and how it is projected on the camera sensor. So if you have a one-inch object, that should result in a one-inch projection of the sensor that is usually no larger than 1.5 inches. The idea is that as much as the object you’re shooting takes from the total size of the sensor, the “more macro” your photo is.
This is a bit self-explanatory but it is important to have our facts straight in order to be able to take the best macro pictures. This distance represents the distance between your sensor and the subject you are focusing on. The best macro lenses have a large working distance, somewhere around 30 centimeters. Also, the working distance increases along with magnification decreasing.
Mirrorless vs DSLR
You may ask yourself why the camera choice was not the first point in our discussion. Well, because macro photography can be done with almost any type of camera, even some mobile phones are able to make remarkable macro photos nowadays. But if you’re expecting great results, DSLRs are the best choice in this case. Due to the fact that you have a lot of lens options and the possibility to get a live preview on the LCD, this is the choice you should make.
Bottom line when it comes to the elements that compose a macro picture is that magnification is the concept that, if you comprehend, you’ll be able to make the best macro pictures out there. Of course, there is a lot more to it but we will cover that in the following section.
Tips on how to take the perfect macro photos
As already stated, macro photography is quite accessible for the majority of amateur photographs and does not necessarily require expensive equipment of advanced technical skills. Here’s a list of tips that will definitely help you.
Use a twin light or a ring flash
Using a flash when taking a macro photo will allow you to shoot at quite reasonable speeds and also enable you to keep an aperture of f/11 for a good depth of field. Indeed, buying external flash equipment can be a bit expensive for beginners, however, it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Learn how to focus manually
The use of manual focus when shooting in macro is a must. It is specifically useful when shooting insects or anything that moves. Since the movement is constant, turning off the automatic focus of the lens can make your life a lot easier. Of course, manual focus is not an easy thing to master but practice makes it perfect.
Learning how to be patient and not running around like crazy chasing insects or other creatures that you want to take photos of is essential for getting the perfect shot. That will only make things worse as you will scare them off and you will end up with no photo. Instead, if you have enough patience and hold still, you will discover that insects or small creatures will feel a lot safer and get close enough for you to take the shot.
Experiment with extension tubes
An extension tube is basically a tube that connects the camera’s body and the lens and it is most commonly used in macro photography. When you use extension tubes, the focus needs to always be set on manual since the automatic won’t work anymore due to the fact that the lens is not directly communicating with the camera.
Set shots up
Not all macro shots need to be taken in nature. You can take extraordinary photos in more controlled environments. Take photographing a water drop into a fish tank for example. All you need to do is take a plastic bag, put a pinhole in it and hold it over a fish tank. Then focus the camera on the droplet of water and wait for the perfect moment.
Learn how and when to use a tripod
As a rule, you need to be able to shoot faster than the length of the lens in order to hold the camera in your hands. If the shutter speed becomes larger than the lens focal length then you will need to use a tripod.
Shutter speed becomes more important than ISO when shooting macro. This happens because most of the insects and small objects you will shoot tend to move a lot so that’s why it is important to have a faster shutter speed.
Don’t give up
Even if you don’t get the shot you are looking for, do not quit. If you are determined enough and have the correct camera settings, another perfect shot might be just around the corner.
There you have it, you now have all the info and tips on how to take some good macro pictures. It is very important to master the basic mechanics behind this type of photography before going into more intricate tips and this guide will help you do just that.