Macro Photography

Macro photography is all about close up work, taking detailed images of small objects. The following are a few tips on how to make the most of it.

Aperture

One key thing to remember is that a macro lens, when working on a close up image is that the depth of field can be razor thin. Each shot you take will need some though about how much of the image you want to keep in focus. Some can work really well with only a small amount of the object in focus, but most want more than you will get with it on the widest aperture.

Ideally, you'd want to shoot at something like f5.6 to get a decent amount of the object in focus, but you might need to go smaller.

This naturally means, if you are working on f5.6 or smaller, is that your shutter speed and ISO need to balance it.

Shutter Speed

Depending on what you are shooting, you may want this to be fairly fast. Especially if you are shooting something moving, because the tiniest changes will be easily visible. It needs to be fast enough that whether you are handheld or on a tripod you are not getting any slight variations.

Tripod

Whilst you can shoot a macro image handheld, you get a much better result if you are able to use a tripod.Tripod to control apature - be aware of longer shutter speeds, as tiny vibrations will reveal themselves. It also means you have finer control over the depth of field and so can make it thinner.

ISO

ISO is pretty much the same here as anywhere, set it is low as you can to get a great picture. If you can't add more light to the scene, you will need a higher ISO to make sure you have the aperture you need and shutter speed required.

Light

Light is crucial here, the more light you can get on the object means wider depth of field you can expand to without impacting on the quality of the image. If you need a fast shutter speed and want to keep a reasonable area of the object in focus you need good light.

Additional Lighting

If you are shooting single shots (i.e. not trying to catch a water droplet as it falls) then you have the option to use a flash. My advise is always, stay away form an on camera flash as the direct light washes the subject out. Either bounce it, or shoot it off camera. You can also just use a lamp or torch up close to make add some extra light. A small controlled light source can add some interesting shadows to the image.

Steadiness

As mentioned above, even the smallest of movements will be extremely obvious on the final image, so I would suggest you use a shutter release to make sure its properly steady. Failing that, if you use your camera's 2 sec delay it gives the camera time to steady itself.

Focusing

Consider moving the object not the camera for fine tuning focusing and composition. Moving the object around slightly can be an easier than adjusting the position of the camera if it is on a tripod.

Live View

The final trick is a good one if your camera supports it. Instead of shooting through the eyepiece, swap to the live view monitor and use the zoom function to get as close as possible to the image. This allows you to choose the exact point you will focus on. Manually focus on that point and take the photo and you will find it much easier to get the perfect shot. In the attached image, I used the zoom function to focus on the reflection of the window.

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