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Macro is one of my favourite topics in photography. Here’s a few quick tips if you are interested in creating something “different” or you need a spark in your creativity. Macro doesn’t have to be defined simply my thinking about bugs or flowers. Macro photography can be very abstract.
1. Fill The Frame
Get in as close as you can to fill the frame, you don’t need negative space in macro photography. Part of the beauty of macro photography is the ability to shoot abstracts and the more of the frame you fill with the image, the more abstract it can become.
2. Use a Tripod
Although some say a tripod can useful, I think that it is essential for any form of close-up or macro photography. It will help limit any form of user induced vibration which will give a sharper image. Camera shake is more noticeable the closer you get to the subject. Getting the best should be your priority so a good tripod is key.
3. Use Flash
It’s not always necessary to use flash but often it is essential as shadows are a macro photographers enemy. Try shooting where possible in bright available light and if necessary use some form of reflector, to fill the shadow. This can be the white back cover of your camera manual or a proper reflector from a photo shop. It would be ideal if your camera gave you control of the flash but if it doesn’t use a piece of tracing paper and tape it over the flash to diffuse the harsh strobe light.
4. Use a Long Focal Length for Insects
With many forms of macro photography, especially with insects, a lens with a long focal lens – minimum 200 mm is required for some nature subjects. You need to keep a working distance from the subject to get a successful image – you don’t want to frighten your subject away.
5. Manually Focus
The ability to focus manually is a big bonus when shooting macro. Because you are working with such limited depth of focus you need to be able to determine what you want in focus. Allowing the camera to choose by auto focusing will interfere with where you want to focus. So set it manual focus and focus on the part of the subject you want in sharp focus. If you can utilize live-view and zoom, do so.
The ability to set your aperture manually is a big advantage as this allows you to control the depth of focus mentioned in point four. The technical term for this is depth of field and it determines how much of your image is in focus in front of the subject. Some cameras won’t allow changing the aperture once the setting has been changed to macro mode. If you can change the aperture you’ll probably use a large aperture in order to blur out the background which is very effective for close-ups.
7. Use a Cable Release (or Self-Timer at least)
The use of your camera’s self-timer is essential in limiting camera shake and vibration when pressing the shutter button. This is basically a delayed shutter release allowing vibrations to subside before the photo is taken.
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