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Macro photography is a style of photography that makes small things look large. Macro photographers might focus on flowers or insects or other small things that are photographed in such a way that they make up a large focus of the end photograph.
It’s a fun technique that’s improved by macro photography tips that enhance your technique.
In general, macro photography means very large photographs. In practice, though, it’s the art of taking extreme close-ups of small objects to produce a larger-than-life shot.
It’s one of the most challenging types of photography but it’s also one of the most impactful and rewarding. It requires the photographer to work with very shallow depths of field and extended shutter speeds.
It might also put you into some cramped spaces when taking your photographs – but that’s all part of the fun!
Macro photography is perfect for anyone that loves attention to detail and has a lot of patience, especially if you are working with live subjects when taking your photographs.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you in your macro work.
What’s the Difference between Macro and “Close Up” Photography?
Though the terms might be used interchangeably and some people even use microphotography when talking about macro photography, they are different and mean different things.
Macro photography captures something small to the eye and makes it look huge.
Close up photography is just the act of getting close to a subject and taking a picture. It can be any sized object, it’s just shot close up. In macro photography, the subject is small and looks large.
Knowing how to approach a subject, understanding how to capture images when achieving the effect of macro photography, and making the most of the tools you have to work with are all an important part of practicing macro photography.
These macro photography tips will help you get started and improve your skills as a macro photographer.
Top 10 Macro Photography Tips
1. You Don’t Need a DSLR Camera
Though you might already be working with a DSLR camera when you decide to practice macro photographer, it isn’t necessary.
As a matter of fact, you can capture macro images with nothing more than an iPhone camera. You’ll just need to use the right lens to get the macro effect you want. One of our favorites is the Black Eye Macro G4, available at Amazon.
2. Any Time is the Right Time for a Macro Shot
You might think macro photography is only going to work in certain situations or at certain times. This isn’t necessarily the case.
Though there might be conditions when the background, light, or shadows are more ideal than others, you can capture macro images during every season. And since much of macro photography is concentrated on nature, you’ll have a chance to get great shots any time of year.
3. Your Macro Lens Can Do a Lot
Many people assume their macro lens is specifically designed for shooting photos of small creatures like bees and dragonflies but this isn’t the case.
The lens can handle multiple other fields, so you need not worry about investing in something that is only going to work under very specific conditions.
The average macro lens has a minimum focusing distance of 30 cm so you can use it for a variety of subjects. Anything you can photograph can be captured as a macro image.
4. Lighting Can Be a Challenge
It doesn’t matter what your subject is when practicing macro photography, you’ll likely need to incorporate some extra light.
You need a wider aperture and an extended focal length so the usual ambient lighting will not be enough. There are cases when you have enough natural light to suffice, but if not, use a reflector or external flash to improve your photo.
Read more about building a macro flash diffuser.
5. Using Focus Stacking
Focus staking is important for macro photographs and, sometimes, it’s a necessity. The wide aperture needed in macro photographs gives you a small depth of field which affects your focus.
When you focus stack, you can capture primary images at different focus points and stitch them together to keep your intended subject in focus.
6. Working with Moving Objects
If you expect your subject moving, like when you’re shooting insects, it’s best to focus on something static in the photo and plan for the moving subject later.
For instance, if your goal is to capture an insect crawling across a flower, set up to shoot the flower and allow the insect to become part of the photo as naturally as possible.
7. Do Not Disturb
Getting great macro photographs of tiny living creatures can be a challenge. This is especially true for the subjects that are likely to fly away when jostled or startled. Your best bet is to entice these creatures instead of spooking them.
Invite them into your shot instead of taking the shot to them. There are many ways to do this and what works sometimes might not be right another time. Practice the skill and you’ll end up getting great photos.
8. Start with Inanimate Subjects
To back up a bit, you might want to begin with subjects that aren’t going to fly away. It’s exciting to capture a macro image of a caterpillar or butterfly but it can also drive the most skilled photographer batty.
One of the best macro photography tips is to begin with inanimate objects like food or plants and then graduate to things that move.
9. Remember to Keep It Interesting
When you drill down to the most tedious form of art, you can lose some creativity. Make sure this doesn’t happen when practicing macro photography.
One of the goals of taking macro shots is to take things we see all the time and make them more interesting. Therein lies the creativity.
When you can prompt a viewer to think “wow, I’ve never examined something from that angle!” and be enthralled into an otherwise common image, you’ve achieved your goal.
10. Capture the Details
Macro photography is all about the details. Your goal is to capture the texture, shapes, and details of your subject.
It’s also important to consider space when taking a macro photograph, just as you would with any other shot. Negative or empty space helps a viewer’s eye see what’s most important about the details of an image.
Now get out there and practice your macro photography!