Basics of Macro Photography

Have you ever wondered how a close-up image of a dragonfly eye that is few millimeters big was taken? Or a photo of a 1mm small water drop sitting on a flower leaf?

Even though it seems a very complex process at first, there is no magic to it. An entry level DSLR is perfectly capable of producing this kind of photos. This type of photo art is known as macro photography or by a less used name “photomacrography”.

Macro photography is not something new. Even before digital cameras arrived, people were shooting regular size photos. Those were then enlarged to the actual size of the object. That’s what macro photography was at its early stages.

Nowadays with powerful technologies being used in photography, macro became more popular area.

One of the main macro photography principles is to shoot objects as close as possible. Some may say why not to just zoom into the subject and click the shutter – it will result in a quite good macro image. The reason is that the final image will me much clearer and can be enlarged to a bigger size if shot from close distance. Zooming would make you lose image quality and overall size.

There are several macro photography techniques that require different sets of equipment. Those are: “reversed lens”, “close-up”, using a telephoto lens, using an extension tube, using a microscope attached to a lens. We suggest choosing one based on the equipment availability. Give it a shot before you start buying expensive macro lenses.

If you are interested in trying yourself in macro photography, here are a few main points that every beginner should consider:

  1. Aperture has to be adjusted manually to achieve the right depth of field.

  2. Lighting should be set correctly to ensure right colors capture. Studio softboxes might not be the best idea here – your object is tiny, so table lamps would be the way to go.

  3. Using a flash in micro photography may be a bit hard due to small distance between the object and your camera. Ring flashes could be the answer, however, it’s better to try one before you buy it. They are pricey and if you manage to achieve the results using table lamps, you may save some money on a ring flash.

  4. You may need to move a camera around a tiny object surprisingly more times that you would around a big one. Even a small move makes a difference. If the first shot wasn’t as good as expected – play around with angle, you may find a better one.

  5. After a shoot every time take a closer look at the image by magnifying it to 200% in photo processing software. You will see the tiniest imperfections that you have to take into account next time. If you do that your macro photography skills will improve quite fast.

Macro photography is an awesome way to see the beauty of tiny objects in this world, that otherwise don’t fall into our view. We encourage you to visit some exhibition or browse macro images galleries online to get inspiration and try it yourself. Who knows, maybe your macro photos will be on the National Geographic cover some day.

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