When I first started trying to learn macro photography (way back in early 2012) everything I read had such an “old school” approach to shooting. Everyone said you have to shoot with a tripod and stop down to at least f/16. To me, these rules were extremely stifling and they just didn’t feel like ME. So I set out to teach myself macro photography in a way that felt authentic to my style and vision. Here, I hope to share some tips and tricks with you, to help you on your own journey to explore macro photography!
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- No.01What is macro?
Macro photography is defined as the close-up photography of objects that are typically very small. “True” macro is done at 1:1 ratio, meaning that the object is represented on your sensor at the same size as real life. I am more flexible with my definition and consider 2:1 or closer to be macro photography.
- No.02Do I need an expensive macro lens?
You don’t! There are very affordable macro lenses out there, like the Lensbaby Velvet which captures 2:1 macro. You can also try macro filters or extension tubes. You can also try reverse free lensing, which allows you to shoot macro photography without a macro lens.
- No.03Do I need lighting and a tripod and focusing rails and a bunch of other equipment?
Definitely not! I never use a tripod, and I rarely use artificial light. You can certainly be a macro minimalist, if you choose!
Okay, so on to the fun stuff! Here are my top tips for beautiful macro images.
- No.01Use manual focus.
Auto-focus is simply not reliable enough when working at close distances and with narrow depth-of-field. Manual focus can take some practice if you aren’t used to it – keep trying and don’t give up!
- No.02Try different angles.
This is the benefit of not using a tripod – you’re free to move around and try all different angles and compositions. One of the great things about macro photography is that you don’t need anyone else to participate, so no one is rushing you to take their photo. Take your time and slow down.
- No.03Be attentive to color.
Color can be a really powerful element in your images. Be thoughtful about your vision and how you use color. I love using complimentary color schemes in my macro images.
- No.04Be purposeful with your depth-of-field.
With macro photography, we are very close to our subjects and we often have a long focal length, and these factors lead us to have a very narrow depth-of-field. Make sure your depth looks intentional. Think about exactly how much of your subject you want to be in focus, and choose your aperture and distance accordingly.
I hope these tips give you the confidence to try out macro photography or maybe try a different approach if you’re already shooting macro! Macro can be very therapeutic and it’s a wonderful way to slow down and shoot for yourself.