If you’re not familiar with macro photography, it is close-up photography. Taking close-up photos of relatively small subjects.
I’m a fan of close-up photos of nature. It’s fascinating to see small subjects close-up that you wouldn’t notice otherwise. It allows me to pause and appreciate the beauty in the tiniest creation. The other day I even got inspired to take some macro photos while eating a carrot.
Macro Photography Set-up
Set up doesn’t have to be complicated.
1. A good light source.
2. A macro lens for sure. A non-macro lens won’t allow you to get close enough to your subject to focus.
3. Keep your camera steady with a tripod.
4. Keep your camera steady while taking photos with a remote trigger or by using the self-timer function.
5. Keep your subject steady. Stay indoors and if outdoor, avoid windy days.
Camera setting depend on the subject you’re photographing, your angle in which you’re photographing and how close-up you’re shooting. If you’re not filling the frame with the subject and are including a background you’d want to blur the background you’d need a aperture that will give some depth of field but not too much. f/4.0, f/5.6 or f/7.1 will do. If filling the frame, sharpness is important so you’d want a large part of your subject in focus by using a small aperture like f/11 or higher.
Settings used for the images below:
Aperture: f/11, f/16 and f/18
Shutter speed: 1/10, and 1/20
Because I used small apertures for large depth of field, I needed to let in more light to the camera with slower shutter speed and use a higher ISO that is more sensitive to light. Because my kids were near by and I could feel the vibration on the floor, I opted for a slow shutter speed but not too slow. I also decided to crank up the ISO. Later I reduced some of the noise in Lightroom.
Taking the Photo
1. Use live view mode on the back of your screen and use manual focus.
Looking through the small viewfinder to focus won’t always give you the accuracy in focus that is necessary in macro photography. With live view mode, you’re able to zoom in to your subject to make sure your subject is in focus.
2. Use a remote trigger or the self-timer function.
Even the slightest movement can blur your image. A remote trigger allows you to take photos without touching your camera. Since you most likely will be using a slow shutter speed, pressing your shutter button with your finger can easily cause shake or vibration, so be sure to use a remote trigger or the self-timer function.
3. Be patient:)
I found a spot next to a large window with light. It was a snowy overcast day so it wasn’t a lot of light but it provided soft diffused light.
Here was my set up. Fancy, huh?
Actually this is one of the things that I love about photography. Taking photos in places that are not fancy but coming up with beautiful photos with the use of good light and some skill.
A macro lens is essential, so if you’re interested in macro photography you’d want to consider investing in a macro lens.
Here’s one thought I have about macro lenses from my experience. I only have a 50mm macro lens. It’s fine for still subjects. However, I faced some challenges when I attempted to take photos of bugs and snowflakes. With the 50mm focal length, I have to get really close to the subject. That didn’t work so well when I tried taking macro photos of bugs since my presence scared them away. It also didn’t works so great when I tried taking photos of snowflakes. When I got close it melted the snowflakes away. I could see how a longer focal length lens like a 100mm would come in handy in those situations. So, something to consider if you’re thinking about purchasing a macro lens. Think about what you want to photograph or what you like photographing and fill the need.
Macro lenses for Canon DSLR users
Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro Lens – Good starter macro lens
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens – Another good option for just under $500
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens – Older version of the 100mm macro lens
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens – Newer version of the 100mm macro lens with Image Stabilization function. If money is not an issue for you this is Canon’s top of the line macro lens option.
I used the Sigma 50mm F2.8 EX DG Macro lens for Canon but unfortunately Sigma discontinued production of this lens for Canon and Pentax cameras. It’s available for Nikon though.
Macro lenses for Nikon DSLR users
No need to go crazy on this. You can buy your Nikon or Canon brand or just go the basic third party brand.
For the photo below, I used a white paper to add some fill-light on the right side, the opposite side of the window which was my light source.This photo below was taken with an iPhone using a the SquidCam macro lens for iPhone4.