Macro Photography Tips for a Better Result in 10 Easy steps

In Macro Photography, ordinary subject can turn out to be an extraordinary one. The beauty of the things around us that we never noticed due to our busy schedule. With macro photography, we stop for a while and look for what’s inside the tiny things beyond the limit of our naked eye. Here are some tips to have a better macro images:

1.Know your light. Whether you are indoor or outdoor you should consider how much light and what kind of light is available. Shooting indoor, you must consider where to get your light source. You can use the built-in flash or an external one. But consider using a flash diffuser if you want to soften the light on your subject. You may also consider the natural light from the window (I prefer this one but it is up to your perspective). When you’re outside you wouldn’t want to over expose your shot. By examining the light, you might pull off a perfect (or closely perfect) exposure. You may also use flash or other light source when shooting outdoor even the sun is bright to avoid hard shadows.

2. Beauty is in the eye. In macro photography, one of the best subjects is insect. By focusing in the eye of your subject, you may unlock the mystery of the tiny world. Some insects have compound eyes that would look amazing in a photo. Or you might show how great the eyes of a spider. The eye (of the subject) must be sharp always (unless of course you intended not to do so) because the photo might look off when the eye is blurred. Humans also have an instinct to look into someone’s eye, so it is really important to catch their attention with a perfectly sharp eye of your subject.

Macro Photography
Canon EOS 400D, Tamron 18-200mm + extension tubes

3.Explore different perspectives. This means that you should be creative in making your compositions. Shoot as many as you can in different angles and distance. You might consider what others want to see or what you want them to see. You should follow basic rules in photography but never be afraid to break them. Breaking the rules might get you where you want to go, just be wise and creative enough to show the story in your photo you want to convey.

4.  Pre-focus and do it manually. Sudden movements and mechanical noise might frighten your subject so you might consider pre-focusing before heading outside for the shoot. You can focus to something that is about the same size of your future subjects. Focus manually so that the lens will not refocus every time you take a shot and to avoid the noises it will make. Once you have your subject, the only thing you need to do is to move closer and closer until you have the best distance (with respect to the pre-focusing). Then, take the shot (as many as you can).

Most of the time nature gives you some problem but you could always adapt.

5. Block the wind. Shooting outside has the risk of blurry shots due to wind. Do not shoot macro outdoor when it is windy. But if you happened to shoot on a windy day, just block it. You can use something that is heavy enough to prevent the wind in moving your subject or you can use yourself in blocking the wind. Just face your subject having your back on the side where the wind blows.

6.Just “dew” it. Dew drops or water droplets add magic in macro images. It is just perfect using the effects of the droplets of water in a flower, bugs, flies, dragonflies, etc. You can use an empty spray bottle of a perfume. Fill it with water and spray it on your subject but be careful not to scare it away.

7. Details, details, details. Details in the macro world is not always visible to the naked eye. This is what’s great about macro photography. Showing the mysteries beyond the limit of the naked eye. You may also look for patterns and textures that would make your shot stand out. This require creativity in using the light available (in Tip no. 1). For example you shoot a fabric with this extraordinary texture or pattern, the details of a fly’s legs, patterns from a leaf, etc.

This is taken using extension tubes. The jumping spider is so small and it is on a moringa leaf. Although extension tubes were used, the image was still cropped in Lightroom.

Macro Photography

8. Be steady and still. Camera shake is highly critical in macro photography. Magnifying the subject means magnifying the shake causing blurry image. You may consider on bracing yourself to a tree, or on the ground. You can also use your own body by supporting your elbow on your chest. Or you might consider using a sturdy tripod. A gorilla pod may do the job providing that it can carry the weight of your camera and lens. What makes a gorilla pod a good buddy in macro photography is that its legs can be curved into different ways you want depending on the terrain or the situation. Remember not to use substandard tripods. This might compromise your big expensive camera and lens.

  1. Shoot 1:1 first. It is always a must to take life size shot first before zooming in for a bigger magnification. Yes, it is an amazing thing to shoot in a higher magnification but shooting life size is as amazing as it is. Be sure that the life size shot is sharp and decent before zooming in. By shooting 1:1, you also capture the environment of the subject. This will serve as the background and can add some elements your photo needs. Remember that you can always crop your 1:1 shot to your desired magnification but you cannot zoom out the image of the part of the subject to have a life size image. After having the mandatory 1:1 you can now go for higher magnification.

 

10.  Always post-process your shots. Post-processing your shot can enhance your image. Just add some exposure or darken it a bit, or remove distracting elements in the background by blurring it. You might need to crop your image or sharpen it a bit. You can do it more stunning using post-processing software like Adobe Lightroom. For a better post-processing you may shoot using raw format so that some elements will not be loss during the post processing.

10 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips! I never would have thought to pre-focus by manually focusing on something inside that I would expect to be the same size of my subject! I always struggle with macrophotography because I’m never fast enough to get the shot before my subject moves. Focusing before hand would definitely save loads of time!

  2. I’ve taken a few Macro pictures before but I’ve never once thought about adding dew drops. I’ll definitely give it a try next time I head over to the pond (where the frogs hide).

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