Macro photography is all about making small items look larger than life. Anything from insects, flowers, and plants can become the focus of your photos.
Sometimes, macro photography is referred to as micro-photography. There are similarities between the two, but they are not the same thing, as this post will show you.
What is Macro Photography
Looking at technical aspects, macro photography is a challenging area to be a part of.
You have to work with very shallow depths of field and long shutter speeds. You might also find yourself working in tight spaces.
Your attention to detail needs to be very high, and you have to have an endless supply of patience.
Not to mention that your subjects might try to fly or slither away!
Our guide has all the information to help you start photographing the little things. Or help you improve your skills if you’re already familiar with macro.
Although some people see these as being the same thing, or at least similar, there is a difference.
Macro photography is capturing something small and making it look larger than life.
Close-up photography is getting closer to a specific subject. These can be flowers – using them to fill the frame. This article goes into great depth on this subject.
Depth of field is one of the most important areas of photography. Don’t overlook it as it will affect the type of camera you choose (crop vs. full frame) and the lenses you choose.
At it’s most basic, the depth of field is the amount of any scene you place in focus. This is something that is set by the aperture.
But, distance and focal length also play important parts. Read here to understand the basics and more advanced ideas on depth of field photography.
When it comes to macro, the camera equipment you need can be quite different from other fields. The setup you’d use to photograph landscapes, people, streets, or even the stars wouldn’t work here.
The majority of macro photographers use a DSLR, and this is also the most versatile camera. Mirrorless cameras are also possible. There are even specific point and shoot models for macro photography.
We will concentrate on DSLRs, but also touch on other possibilities.
When it comes to macro photography, the importance falls on the lens, rather than the camera itself. This does not mean that the camera you use is not important.
The camera can, in fact, influence your choice of lens. Even so, it is possible to shoot a macro photograph on a point-and-shoot camera with a fixed lens.
But only as long as it can produce a minimum of 1:1 life-size ratio of the subject. This is what makes an image a macro photography image, rather than a close-up.
This extensive review article runs through the most common camera types. DSLRs, mirrorless and point-and-shoot are all possible for photographing this macro world.
A tripod will keep your camera still, reducing shake. It will also give you those aerial, top-down images you see so often.
It is also a secure place to keep your camera while you are spending hours arranging a scene. And it ensures the perspective doesn’t change.
Having a tripod allows you to use manual focus, to make sure you have the focal point where you want it. This is necessary for image stacking.
Here is our article on why a tripod is important for taking good macro photography food images.
A crop sensor is one thing about your camera choice that could impact your macro photography. If your camera has a crop-sensor rather than a full-frame one, you’d be able to get closer to your subject.
The compromise here is that it would cut down on how much light your sensor takes in.
Full-frame lenses on a crop-sensor camera affect the focal length of the lens. Your scene is drastically magnified.
If you were to use the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM on a crop-sensor camera, it would multiply the focal length by 1.6x. This forces the 100mm focal length to a 160mm.
This would, in turn, get you closer to your subject. And it also stops you from spending a ton of money on a new telephoto lens.
The lens is the most important thing to consider when working with macro photography.
This choice will depend on what kind of close-up photography you would like to do.
If you are getting started, then choosing a general macro lens is a good place to start. It will give you time to get used to this new style before moving on to a dedicated macro lens.
This article runs through the best lenses to use to capture this new, little world.
the accessories you need will depend on your subject. There are many macro photography accessories available.
All to help you get the best out of all styles of macro shots. Extension tubes and adapters can be very handy. But other equipment might also be handy.
These may include Items to help you arrange your subjects properly. Tweezers, brushes and focusing rails should be well considered.
Our article will take you through the many accessories you can use to improve your macro photography.
Their usefulness will soon be obvious. You’ll wonder how you did without them.
If you prefer to capture macro photography from the comfort of your own home, we have an idea for you.
A light box is a great way to light small to medium sized objects. The device allows you to capture a subject in a white space. This is reminiscent of product photography.
This is a great way to reduce and cut out distracting backgrounds or foregrounds.
Making one of these light boxes isn’t difficult, and it won’t break the bank. Start today and simplify your macro photography.
When to photograph macro can be a daunting idea, but the answer is all the time! Every season has its own elements that will benefit your photography.
This article helps you to understand that researching, especially local areas, can be very advantageous. Especially in the search for small subjects, spots, and small objects to shoot.
Whether you are photographing food or insects, your image will need some extra light. As you are using wide apertures and long focal lengths, ambient light will not suffice.
These can be in the form of natural light, used with a reflector or from an external unit like a flash gun or ring flash.
This article shows you possibilities out there. It will help you harness this added light to get the best out of your macro photography.
Types of Macro Photography
The interesting world of insects is one of the most popular areas to photograph using macro photography.
This area fascinates us. It allows these very tiny creatures to be photographed and enlarged. They become huge monsters of fantasy novels.
This area is also one of the most difficult and time-consuming to photograph.
You are dependent on these creatures doing what you want them to do, when and where you want them to.
This article looks at all the aspects to get you on your feet and running. You’ll want to go full-speed into the world of insect macro photography.
One of the easiest areas of macro photography to start with that of plants and flowers.
They don’t need any cooking like food photography. And they don’t have a mind of their own like insects.
With a few simple rules of composition, you can get great results. One thing you’ll need to think about is movement.
This article will guide through the intricacies of macro flower photography. You’ll be sure to capture some amazing pictures.
Food photography is about showing off creations from the kitchen.
Usually, it’s the final stage that we see, where preparation and presentation come together to find harmony.
Macro photography focused on food is all about the details, textures, and shapes.
It looks directly at the ingredients. Or perhaps a small part of the finished product rather than the style.
This article gives a great in-depth look at how to treat food as a subject and photograph it with great success!
With any type of abstract photography, you are looking to create something interesting and creative. this can be a challenge as you will use things we might see all the time.
Macro photography is no different. It also focuses on things such as texture, composition, and light. At the same time, you need to fully use a very shallow depth of field.
This extensive article runs through just about all you need to know. Especially when you want to get deep into this photographic style.
There is no field more niche than that of macro eye photography.
This field is a fusion of landscape, Astro, and abstract photography. You’ll find all these ideas from our great article.
As far as macro photography goes, this field is by no means easy. It isn’t a small, speedy project to undertake in your free time.
It is, however, interesting. Our article will show you a glimpse into what is possible to achieve with time, patience, and practice.
Macro lenses aren’t just for photographing creepy-crawlies up close. They are useful for a multitude of other photographic fields.
These lenses are great for just about anything. The only difference between a macro lens and a normal telephoto lens is the short focusing distance.
The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens has a minimum focusing distance of 30 cm.
So, if you are going to invest in a macro lens, know that you can use it for other photography fields.
For the other nine macro photography tips, you need to read our article here.
Macro Photography Techniques
Choose your camera, settle on lenses, and decide on what area you want to photograph. Now it’s time to get started.
Regardless of whether it’s insects or food, each style will come down to practice and patience.
Here is a great guide to ease you into macro photography, showing you what to look for and focus on. There’s a whole world out there, just waiting to be discovered.
One of the most important factors with macro photography is the ‘aperture’.
This gives you control over the light and the depth of field.
Having a low aperture will allow you more control over the shutter speed. This is very helpful for moving objects, such as insects.
This comprehensive guide to in-camera settings gives you all the know-how. No excuse for not achieving stunning results.
Macro photography can be an expensive hobby. The Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens costs a pretty penny. Especially if you don’t plan on using it very often. So do specialty Nikon lenses.
For those who are more DIY minded, there are other possibilities.
Lens reversing rings are just one way you can capture macro photography. Especially without spending a fortune.
The greatest part of this method is you already have 95% of everything you need; your lens.
You just need a ring to connect the front of your lens to the camera body. Cheap, cheerful and very effective.
Extension tubes are the second method you can use to capture great macro photography images without spending a fortune.
These extension tubes extend the lenses that you already have. Usually, they come in three different sizes; 7, 14 and 28 mm.
They can be easily stacked too, extending your lens by up to a maximum of 49 mm.
If you are feeling fancy, you can also go for extension tubes with digital contacts. Or get some close-up filters.
Extension tubes allow your lens to still communicate with your camera. They retain settings and autofocus capabilities.
Read our post here for all the information on where to get them and how to use them.
Everything that you can photograph could be a macro image.
You just have to let your creative side run wild and see the world in a different way.
Get as close to items as you can to see the change in perspective. It is possible that new ideas and creativity could be born and something unique created.
This is a great article for inspiration to help get you started.
Food photography is just one area where macro photography can be very creative.
You can easily turn everyday ingredients into out-of-this-world objects or landscapes.
There is a whole world of textures, shapes, and forms to find. You just have to get closer. Start by reading our article.
There are different compositional rules when it comes to photographing any subject. Macro photography is no different.
Capturing living creatures in the great outdoors needs something special.
Leaving space in front of the creature’s eyes can be very appealing. Negative or ’empty’ space helps force your eyes to what is important in the image.
Having the subject look at the closest frame edge is unpleasing. This article helps to give you insight into how to frame your subjects in the best way.
The compositional weight concept refers to the visual elements of your image. You can use it to balance your macro photography.
This is something to look into for help creating visually appealing images.
We use weight because of its powerful tool of composition. Different objects, their colors, darkness, and size have varying degrees of importance in an image.
To get the best out of your images, this weight needs to be balanced.
Using two or more objects can create visual harmony, and other times focusing on one subject can give you the best results.
Diagonal lines are compositional values that can subtly add movement to an image. Or give depth to an otherwise flat image.
They can have a relationship with the frames of the photograph. They help to draw in the viewer’s focus towards the most interesting part of the image.
Macro Photography Post-Processing
When you work with your macro photography, it is important to use the tools that help you get the best out of your work.
Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom are industry standards. They help you get the most out of your work.
You may even have to go through the Raw software. This software helps bring out details in the shadows and mute those highlights.
Here is a very detailed look from start to finish. Here we can see how an insect photographer goes through his post-processing choices.
Focus stacking is a great tool to use in the photographing of macro objects. This technique is especially helpful for the smallest subjects.
Due to the size of your subject, the long focal length and the close distance, your depth of field will be minute. Focus stacking helps to create a wider DoF.
The basic idea is that you take multiple images. Each shot focuses on a different part of the subject, at a shallow depth of field.
These are then layered or ‘stacked’ together so that the final result gives you an all-over focus.
Here is a great, in-depth photography tutorial that you can use to start focusing on your subject, in its entirety.