Successful Macro Photography Explained.. | Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials

Successful Macro Photography Explained..

Successful Macro Photography

Macro photography is often casually referred to as

“close-up” photography. While it’s probably a safe

bet that no one is going to be shunned by their fellow

photographers for tossing around such a loose

definition, the classical definition of macro

photography is a photograph in which the subject is

magnified to life size or greater. Typically, subjects of

macro photography are very small, such as insects or

flowers; larger objects may also prove useful as

macro photography subjects if, for instance, you want

to focus on some very specific, smaller detail of the

large object in question. Macro photography can be

incredibly fun and rewarding, but it can also be a

challenge. While I don’t profess to be any sort of

macro wizard, I have acquired a certain level of

proficiency and am inspired to share my knowledge

with those who may be looking to take the plunge into

macro photography.

Equipment matters — sort of

Whether you’re using a decent point-and-shoot or the

latest full-frame flagship camera of your preferred

maker, just about anyone can get a cool close-up shot

of a blade of grass sporting beads of morning dew. In

order to realize the full potential in such a shot (and

make it a “true” macro), however, some specialized

equipment is certain to be of great benefit. Assuming

you are using a DSLR, your best bet is to obtain a

dedicated macro lens. If your budget won’t allow for a

new lens, you can try a set of extension tubes to use in

conjunction with a lens you already own.

Get familiar with your subject

This is true no matter what kind of photography you

are doing. If you were doing a photo shoot with a

human subject, you’d want to have a good rapport

with him or her, right? It makes for a better photo.

The same principle applies to macro photography,

especially when shooting insects. It helps to know

their behavior; how do they respond to being

approached by humans? Obviously if you are shooting

flowers or sea shells, then you aren’t concerned with

them scurrying away if you get too close. But it is still

important to know as much as possible about the

traits of whatever you’re shooting.

Patience, patience, patience

As in patience with your subject and patience with

yourself. If you intend to photograph an insect,

stalking said insect will more than likely prove

unsuccessful. Instead of hunting down that elusive

dragonfly, simply position yourself in an area that

dragonflies frequent…and wait. If you remain

vigilant, an opportunity will present itself eventually.

But what if that perfect opportunity finally occurs

and you blow it? Well, it happens. And this is where

patience with yourself comes into play. Trust me

when I say you’re going to take a lot of bad shots; a lot

of poorly lit, out of focus, out of frame shots. Just

keep trying. When you do nail that perfect shot you

will be giddy with delight.

Let there be light

Excellent lighting is key for successful macro

photography. We would all love to use natural light,

but sometimes even the sun won’t get the job done.

There are a few variables to account for in

determining whether natural light will be enough:

your subject, the time of day/intensity of the sunlight,

the lens you are using. If you are outdoors shooting

leaves in low morning light, for example, you might

be okay, as the translucence of the leaves will allow

you to backlight them. Backlighting could also work

for flowers and butterflies. The lens itself could

possibly make getting good light more difficult;

simply, the closer you are to your subject, the more

difficult it is to light it.

If it is a case of you and/or your lens blocking out the

sun, this can be solved by using flash. Your camera’s

built-in flash is not likely to be up to the task of

providing adequate light for macro photography, so

an external flash is in order. Getting that flash off the

camera will provide even better results. If you think

macro photography will become something you invest

a lot of time in, you may even want to consider a ring

flash. Given that a ring flash sits at the very end of

your lens, you should be sure to diffuse the light.

Perfect focus

Nailing focus is perhaps the trickiest aspect of macro

work. The best advice I can give here is to get

comfortable with manual focus. Attempting to

autofocus will do nothing but frustrate you. Before

you try your hand at moving subjects, get in some

good manual focusing practice on anything that won’t

run or fly away from you. Once you’ve mustered the

courage to test out your newly acquired skill on more

animated lifeforms, you can further aid yourself by

pre-focusing. This involves placing an object of similar

size as your subject in an area within the camera’s

field of view where you expect your subject to make

an appearance. When the real thing finally shows up,

you’ll be ready to shoot. Yes, there is some guess

work involved with this method and, depending on

what your subject is, may never find yourself needing

to use it. But if you practice it, it’ll be there just in


Learning to see

Macro photography subjects are by no means limited

to insects and flowers. In everyday life, we’re

accustomed to seeing the “whole” of things. Start

paying attention to the parts that make the whole and

you will expand your vision for macro photography


Practice, patience, and creativity will be the

strongest weapons in your arsenal. So grab whatever

gear you have and go have some fun!


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