Macrophotography is the art of photographing small objects and making them appear of larger size, close and personal. To not be confused with close-up photography, it can be intimidating at first, but it’s a photography style accessible to photographers of any level.
To master macro photography and achieve the desired effect of producing an image of a small object that looks life-sized or larger in the photo, all you need to do is follow these steps I put together for you.
Choose Your Lens Well
The buzz in macro photography can only be realized with spectacular shots and superb photos. It is a world of its kind that is fun to be part of. As a newbie, there is no doubt that you need a macro lens to graduate into this world. This type of lens has at least 1:1 focus affinity. With it, achieving a sensory image that is the same in size as the subject of the photograph isn’t any daunting task.
Additionally, with a macro lens, you can closely focus the distances. This feature makes them ideal for any kind of close up photography. They come in numerous focal lengths. It is the focal length that guides the photographer on the best working distance to opt for. With a good focal length, you can take the short with minimum disturbance to the subject. Middle-range lengths are ideal in circumstances where the subject is scary or you do not want to scare them away.
On the other hand, adept photographers can use ordinary lenses in macrophotography. They are ideal where you are not in a position to acquire dedicated macro lenses.
To use ordinary lenses, you must add some additional features to achieve an outstanding photo. One thing you direly need is the reverse mount rings. These items come in different sizes and brands. The rings improve the magnification of the lens immensely. With a 50mm lens, you will get a 1:1 magnification. The more sizeable the lens is, the higher the magnification power.
On top of the reverse ring, you will need to install an extension tube. This additional feature manipulates the focal point by bringing it closer. For excellent photos, you must program the camera to two stops flash mode after installation of the two features.
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Go for a Good Background
As simple as it may look, many concepts and factors come into play during macro photography. And, for your information, backgrounds are as important as the focus itself.
Background make or break any macro photo. It defines whether the image will have distracting colours, shapes and lines or the uniform appealing appearance. Experienced photographers integrate concepts such as simplicity, good subject separation and use of the surrounding environment for good photos. For killer photos, you can use natural backgrounds such as the sky, broken sunlight, branches and flowers.
Experimenting With Different Angles
It is not always easy to deal with tiny objects. At times you will get carried away and just get close to the subject for a shot. However, this should not be the case.
Just like in any form of photography, angling helps a bunch. It defines the depth of the field and how the outlooks of the background. Literally, different shots call for a different level of angling.
Most macro photos feature low angle. This type of angling provides minimum background and almost the same viewpoint as that of the subject. Higher angles, on the other hand, are ideal for bird’s eye view. And, finally, parallel angles provides the largest depth. They are ideal where you want to make the sharpest focus out of your subject.
By experimenting with different angles, you will be able to manipulate the depth of the field and the subjects’ background for your good. The result is a photo that captures everything that your heart yawns for.
Plan Your Point of Focus
In macro photography, you will be required to push against problems such as diffraction, poor depth of the field and motion blurs. The only way to do this is through this is by maintaining an outstanding focus.
Macro photos capture smaller subjects some of which you will even strain your eyes to see. The biggest of the sizes is the dragonfly. To make it worse, some of these subjects are fast-paced. That tells you why you need to carefully plan for the focus.
Several cameras feature continuous-servo autofocus (AF-C). In AF-C area mode, you will be able to track the subject’s movement efficiently without any blur. Even with constant subjects, it is prudent to be in AF-C mode.
With a tiny subject, moving the camera even by an inch is good enough to throw your focus. For rapidly moving subjects, that can mean a real pain in the ass. In this circumstance, you will need to plan the focus with the use of the camera’s manual focus features.
Control the Depth of the Field
The depth of the field determines how sharp the details of your subject are. It is the distance between the farthest and the closest point in the macro photo.
Depth of the field is controlled by factors such as the focal length, the distance between the subject and the background, the distance between the subject and the foreground, the magnification level, working aperture and the size of the subject.
The best way to keep all these factors into play for a superb macro photo is through narrow depth. You can achieve this through selective focus using a small aperture. Otherwise, with a narrow depth of field, all the factors above are easily amplified.
Take Your Time
Timing matters a lot when it comes to general photography. It determines the level of focus, the depth and level of magnification. When to shoot is determined by two factors; whether the subject is constant or moving.
For constant subject, you can take as long as 10 minutes focusing on the subject. You can easily bring the aforesaid factors into play without losing much sweat.
On the other hand, capturing moving objects can be a little tricky. The pace of the subject is the main guiding factor here. For uniformly moving subjects, 1-2 minutes is enough to adjust the focus and have a great shot. Otherwise, for flying insects, you may be forced to randomly shoot without giving much time on focus and other factors.
Photography is an art. Macrophotography is an advanced version of this art. Perfection in photography is something that you cannot wake up to. However, by improving on these six pillars, you will be able to notch-up your macro photography skills in no time. Shoot consistently and everything will by your side.
Stefano Caioni is the founder of Pixinfocus. His passion for photography helps him discover new places and live new adventures.