Macro photography tips
If someone speaks about macro photography we can think about many things: insect photography, flowers, interesting water droplets, water on a grass, wood surfaces and many more. Usually tiny things photographed from relatively close distances, with high magnification.
0. Think about your photo and find something interesting
If you don’t have any idea, check some pictures on Flickr or other places in the internet and get inspired. But I find very useful to think about the photo before I actually make. This about the subject the foreground the background how you want to photograph it. Make test shots if you not sure what the result will look like. Experimenting is very useful. Do you want to blend more exposures, or use a flash unit. Of course it is hard to predict anything before it happens.
1. If your budget allows, get a true 1:1 Macro lens.
True macro lenses has 1:1 magnification. This means that a half inch insect (1.25cm) has a size of this half inch on the camera sensor as well. On a computer screen it can be quite huge. The interesting thing is that if you use a Dslr camera, you see the insect magnified in the camera’s viewfinder as well. Most monsters of Hollywood films are copied simply some insects.
If you cannot afford this don’t be discouraged, there are other options as well.
You can use your existing lenses as well. I prefer telephoto lenses over wide angle lenses.
Telephoto lenses let’s you shoot more comfortably than wide angle lenses. Normal 50mm lenses also can be used. Prime lenses usually better for this task, than zoom lenses. Why ? Prime lenses are much simpler and easier to construct than zoom lenses, and usually have less distortion as well.
2. Check the minimal focusing distance of your lens.
Here you can have the biggest magnification. The Minimal focusing distance or MFD, usually measured from the sensor plane. I suggest when you have your lens make some test how close you can focus with your lens. After you can remember forever, when you use your lens. Don’t need to worry about several mm, if you focus little more far, perhaps the images will be even better.
3. Extention tubes, teleconverters
Teleconverters can degrade picture quality. There are 1.4x, 1.7x and 2x converters (existing 3x converters as well but these degrade image quality even more). If you think teleconverters are useless check the picture on the top of the page. It was made with two converters stacked on the 200mm f/2.8 prime lens. The quality more depend on the main lens. These converters are designed for the best ultra sharp lenses, so the quality of the converters are not low. Teleconverters are mainly for wildlife, but I think a Kenko 1.4x or a Kenko Pro 1.4x is useful for macro lenses as well.
On the other hand extension tubes are just empty rings, allowing the lens to be more far from the camera. Extension tubes helps more for wider lenses. For example if you put a 25mm extesion tube on a Canon 60mm lens you will have 1.61x magnification. If you put the same ring on a 100mm it will have 1.39x magnification.
4. Playing with different apertures and the depth of field
True macro lenses let’s us to focus closer, than normal lenses, this why create more blurred backgrounds. It can add significantly to the artistic value of the photo. In macro photography often small apertures (f/11- f/16) is used for more parts of the image keep in focus.
But i like to use big apertures as well to create more artistic shots.
5. Use a tripod
Macro photography requires precision, a very small body movement or focus precision problem can totally ruin your photo. It is not means you cannot make killer shots handheld, but in situations where there are not so much light, the tripod can be a good help. On the other hand in some situations it can be tiring to bring the tripod all the time to new locations.
6. Ring flash
7. Multiple shots
– an interesting technique to make many shots at different focus points (of a same insect for example) and combine the shots afterwards in post-processing. This way we can have the best from every parts but this solution is a little time-consuming. Put every photo on a separate layer and combine the finest parts.
8. Natural light is the best
9. Post processing
Post processing the pictures on the computer is essential. Little sharpening, adjust curves, or add contrast can breathe new life to the photo. The key is not over-precessing it.
10. DOF button
If your Dslr camera has a Dof button it can be very useful in macro photography. In case you don’t know the DOF (depth of field) button is usually at the front side of the camera bottom next to the lens mount at left or right side. If you look through the lens usually you see the wide open aperture until the point when you press the shutter. By pressing the dof button you can check your photo before you make it, how much dof you have. It is very useful in macro shots, you can experiment with different apertures by changing the apertures and check with the dof button how your image will look like. Unfortunately not all Dslr cameras has this button.
11. Macro photography tips for compact or point and shoot cameras