What is Macro photography

Many people are unobservant to this fascinating form of capturing the most intricate scenes that transpire before us every moment of our day, like a ladybird on a leaf. By getting up really close, we become more observant to the finer detail, the patterns and the markings and sometimes even the expression on the face. Would it not be amazing to be able to freeze these moments through photography? Macro photography is very popular to many photographers. To be able to capture the true colors, and focus on what you wish to enhance to create that desired impact, takes some practice and often a few quick lessons. As a photographer, and the owner of DLPHOTO STUDIO, we offer many practical one on one workshops, I have decided to share a few simple and useful tips in this blog that will assist you on improving, or discovering your macro photography skills.

The Basics of Macro Photography

It may be simplified as a 1:1 ratio and actual size of the image that you capture in the frame or that the sensor records. Macro photography can range from small insects, to the inside of a plant, in fact, anything that is small and interesting, seen close up and “under examination”. Like everything in life, it is always simple when you know how. Shooting macro means understanding light. Often the light can be tricky depending on the environment. Another important consideration, is how close up you can get to the subject, and finally, your understanding of depth of field (DOP), or Aperture settings on your camera.

How to Compose a Macro Shot through the viewfinder of your Camera

No one ever said there are rules to composition, as it is all in the eyes of the creator, in this case the photographer. I am so grateful that there is no one correct answer to being creative, especially when composing a scene, other than just a few guidelines to follow. That’s my take on it anyway and some will disagree.

Firstly, try avoid shooting from the top, rather spend some time searching for some unusual angles. Often shooting from beneath creates an interesting picture, something surreal and abstract and away from the norm that is interesting in perspective. You don’t even need to “break your back” or be super fit to get into these awkward positions as most modern cameras have a flip screen on the back, which makes this really easy. Another tip is to try allow some space on one side of the subject, as it perfects the balance in the composition, especially with smaller insects and animals. Normally, the side to leave space on is the side where the subject is looking, a similar approach to when you shooting portraiture.

Photography equipment for Macro Photography

As with most genres, the lens is the most important consideration and piece of gear in your bag, and, often the most expensive due to the quality of the glass. It is the glass that “makes the picture”. In the case of macro photography, you will require a macro lens.

A true macro lens is a fixed lens, either a 50mm or 100mm or even a 200mm prime lens. These lens options provide a ratio of 1:1, as well as double magnification to get even closer for focusing purposes. On the 50mm in comparison to the 100mm lens, it is double, and from the 100mm to the 200mm, it is again double the magnification. The lens you choose will depend on what you are shooting. My suggestion is to start with a 100mm lens, as it is provides a more general range in comparison to the others. It is also super sharp.

How to set up your Camera for Macro Photography

As with all our courses and workshops, the only setting on your camera to use is the Manual mode. Manual affords you the opportunity to create truly amazing images, where in Auto mode, or any other of the settings available. the camera default makes choices for you. We teach you how to take the photo and be the photographer.

Understanding your aperture will make a huge difference, as it determines the depth of field that you require. It provides the magnification of the distance you are away from your subject that will help determine the depth of field. The greater the magnification, the shallower the depth of field (the lower the f number, where the greater the depth of field, the higher the f number needs to be set). So, I suggest you start by taking a few test shots with this in mind, start with f 2.8 or lower, depending on the specs of your lens, and move gradually up all the way to f16. This will illustrate a true understanding from the results of your images. It is also very important that when you set the aperture, you keep an eye on the shutter speed, as you don’t want blurred images from fast moving subjects. Your shutter speed setting needs to be fast enough to freeze the movement of your image.

If you are still having trouble with this, use the ISO as a backup, so long as you keep the setting fairly low, you will be fine and avoid any noise on your image. (try to always keep your ISO below 1800 in all cases, as anything above will show noise).

Have a tripod on hand if you shooting a stationary subject. A tripod will allow you to use a low ISO sensitivity setting, a large f stop like f16 for depth of field, and a slow shutter speed, as the camera will be stableas it is supported by the tripod. A shutter release remote works well in combination with a tripod for ensuring toal stability on uneven or soft ground where any movement will make a difference, even when you press the shutter button on the camera.

So give it a try, get out into nature and keep your eyes peeled for something macro to shoot, it is truly creative and makes for great abstract photography.