The world of macro photography is literally under our noses. It's everywhere and yet we seldom notice it until someone takes the trouble to photograph it.
We’ve looked at the hardware requirements needed to get into macro photography http://www.stevenorrisphotography.com/home-page/2011/2/19/3-ways-to-shoot-macro.html and today we discuss the techniques involved. No matter what equipment you are using the techniques are essentially the same.
1. Turn off auto focus
2. Switch to aperture priority (A or AV)
3. Select an aperture that will give you a reasonable depth of field (try starting with f8)
4. Depending on the amount of light you may have to increase your iso so that your shutter speed is high enough to enable hand held shots if not using a tripod.
5. Use a tripod on static subjects. These are an easy way to develop your macro skills before trying your hand at live subjects that often refuse to stay still.
6. If using a zoom lens use the wide angle setting and position your camera to give the composition you want rather than zoom in. Most lenses focus better on wide when doing close ups.
7. Switch your drive to continuous shooting.
8. If not using a tripod focus on the subject (manual focus) and then fine tune the focus by MOVING THE CAMERA back and forth a millimetre or two. This is much more accurate than trying to refocus with the lens.
9. Squeeze the shutter gently and fire off a few shots in rapid succession. If not using a tripod you can’t fail to move slightly as you shoot. Shooting in continuous mode means that at least one shot should be in focus.
10. Practice, practice, practice. Good macro photography is a skill that needs to be developed.
WARNING, when you get your first successful macro shots you may develop a serious addiction! If you didn’t invest in a true macro lens this could be what convinces you to add it to your camera bag.
SUBJECTS. These are EVERYWHERE. There is never a shortage of subjects for macro photographers. You can spend a lifetime just photographing in your own back yard. When the weather turns bad, look around the house.
Set up a mini still life studio on the dining table with a couple of table lamps and a few sheets of coloured card for a backdrop and you can photograph almost anything from the kitchen. Utensils make great subjects and when you get in ultra close you will have your audience guessing what the subject is. Knife, fork, egg beater etc.
Insects, leaves, flowers, gardening utensils, peeling paint, coins, keys, matches (lit and unlit), musical instruments (or parts of them), ultra close up of pets, the list is endless.
What is it? The froth on my coffee at a cafe, (yes, I take my camera everywhere, sad I know).
When you are getting proficient at close ups you will be ready to try something a little more advanced. Again, you are only limited by your imagination.
One drawback with macro is the incredibly shallow depth of field. Here is one way to effectively increase it.
Take a series of shots while GENTLY moving back and forth. Then stack and align the images in Photoshop and selectively delete the out of focus parts of each layer. You’ll end up with incredible sharpness throughout the subject that you didn’t think was possible with macro.
How about macro HDR (high dynamic range) photography? For in depth tutorials on HDR have a look at the HDR master, Trey Ratcliff at Click here to visit Stuck In Customs.
How about a macro panorama? I’ve never tried it, show me what you can do.
To shoot live insects an old technique to slow the little critters down is to place them in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Being cold blooded they go to sleep and then you have about five minutes to get the shots you want before they wake up again.
Warning, put them in the fridge, not the freezer and if you do try this remember to tell your partner whats in the fridge or it could be the end of a beautiful relationship (or the end of your macro career).
I’ve heard that this technique DOES NOT WORK with cats, dogs and children so don’t try it no matter how much you’re tempted!
Have fun and be patient.
And remember Steve’s motto “it’s not a photo until it’s on paper”
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