Macro photography takes the art of close-up photography to the extreme. It means, in technical terms, that the size of the subject on the image sensor is life size or larger. Color, shape, texture and light are intensified.
One of the main purposes of photography is to provide us with new ways to look at things and never is this truer than within the world of the macro photograph: larger than life, giving us a glimpse at things often concealed from the naked eye. In this way, macro images are often startling, which makes them ideal for a wide range of marketing purposes and increasingly popular with web designers.
Techniques for Taking Macro Shots
While macro images are undoubtedly impressive, they can be difficult to capture without the right techniques. Here are several ways to improve your macro photos:
1. Avoid camera movement: Perfect focus is mandatory for great macro shots. When you’re zoomed in on the smallest details, any sort of camera shake can blur and ruin the striking detail you’re trying to capture. Use a tripod whenever possible, but you can also brace your camera against your body for less shake.
2. Consider composition: Setting up the composition of your shot is absolutely necessary for a great macro image. Consider positioning your subject off center, or refer to the rule of thirds for composition guidelines.
3. Fill out your frame: Take full advantage of the space you have to work with by filling your frame completely with your subject. This gives the viewer the impression of being nose-to-nose with your subject, and can create very effective macro shots.
Pay Attention to Detail
As with all photographs, the devil is in the detail, but a macro photograph will usually have one subject or perhaps just a part of one. This means without the clutter of other objects or open spaces in your frame, attention to detail is key. Take, for example, this image of a maple leaf:
In a regular photograph, we would never be able to see the tiny flaws in the surface of the leaf but here, with the light behind them, they becoming the picture’s most striking feature. The lesson here is to know what the strength of your image will be as you adjust your camera settings.
Focus on Lenses
For DSLR users looking to invest in a special macro lens, it’s important to ensure you get a lens that allows a 1:1 magnification ratio (where the real life subject is the same size as the image on the screen). Many lenses advertising macro photography capabilities only facilitate a 1:3 ratio, insufficient for the true macro photographer.
Alternatives to Lenses
Good lenses can be pricey, so if you don’t want to splurge there are other ways to capture a great macro
1. An extension tube: This is simply a metal or plastic tube that fits between the camera body and the lens. Its basic purpose is to extend the lens.
2. A reversing ring: This tool helps you attach your lens “backwards,” which is a great way to get up close and personal with your subject.
3. Close-up diopter: This is a lens accessory, which is basically a magnifying glass that screws onto the front of your lens, allowing you to get closer to your subject.