Tips to Master Macro Photography
How to do Macro Photography
Super Close Up Photography Guide for Beginners
You are reading this article because you want to learn how to do macro photography – and that is awesome!
With macro photography you can get some cool and also weird photos of details you can’t usually see with the eye. Bugs, surfaces, technology parts, plants, the sky is the limit with what you can do with macro shots.
But there are some specific steps and gear you’ll need to know about before you can take really good macro photography.
So in this video tutorial, Stefan Malloch shows you in depth what gear you need for and how to take macro photography!
Macro photography tips for beginners
Stefan in the video tutorial goes in depth for beginners, then intermediate and expert levels.
This article will explain primarily the beginner level guide, but you can watch in the video to go to the next levels when you are ready. It is also assumed that you have at least some photography knowledge in general, but some of the concepts are linked to other helpful articles!
Firstly, What is Macro Photography?
Macro photography is taking photos of objects or elements that appear larger than life. It is extremely close up photos of small subjects. Just think super-zoomed in and clear images of anything from leaves, ants or flowers, to computer chips or jewels.
Previously used mostly for scientific research, macro photography has taken off as an art form as well.
This photo is a great example of macro photography:
What do you need to take Macro Photography?
You don’t need to worry right now about what brand or quality of camera you are using. Any camera for photography will work.
You also don’t need a real macro lens, you can just grab an inexpensive extension tube online. This just attaches between the camera and your lens and makes it simulate a macro lens. A 135mm lens length with extension tube should work just fine.
The gear you need to take macro photography is a camera, lens, tripod, light.
If you want to get serious about macro photography, you should consider getting a macro rail to add to your tripod and using multiple lights for your setup.
Your light should be one continuous light source, not worrying about flash. This light could be a small LED light or a lamp.
The tripod is needed to mount your camera so that it is stable and won’t move or shake, meaning you won’t get blurry photos as much.
The Setup for Macro Photography
First of all, you want to find some object or natural element you want to photography up close. Stefan uses some circuit boards that have small details and look really cool in macro photos.
Since you are a beginner, you should start by using a flat surface. Once you are comfortable with the setup, camera settings, and objects, you can experiment on other surfaces or outdoors.
Set up the camera on the tripod on a flat surface, camera pointing down at the object on the surface.
Set up your light source, and see what moving the light to different angles does to the image.
Then you will want to make sure your camera settings are set correctly.
Camera Settings for Macro Photography
On the camera, you will want to turn on focus peaking which highlights the high contrast areas of the photo with a false-overlay of a color of your choosing.
This will help you determine your optimal focus, because you should also turn on manual focus.
Turning on manual focus will allow you to get real precision by determining the focus setting yourself. This is fine for beginners to try since on the tripod you won’t have a lot of camera shake.
Use lower ISO for better quality images, and then move the shutter speed down to compensate for the underexposure.
Aperture will determine how much of the subject is in focus. Due to the shallow depth of field, you can stop down the aperture quite a lot to get more focus (between f5-f11).
Stopping down too far (past f16) will usually result in diffraction, or when the sensor for light gets to a point that the resolution of the image starts to decrease.
Try taking some photos at a few different aperture levels to find your sweet spot.
Stefan’s camera settings are ISO 100, aperture f2.8, shutter speed 1/25.
It may take some time for you to lock in all of the settings, so set some time aside to experiment with the right levels between ISO, aperture and shutter speed.
Other Tips For Macro Photography
If you are using a mirrorless camera, you can look at the live view on the camera’s back screen to see what your settings and lighting changes are doing to the photo in real time.
You will also benefit from using a timer on the camera, which will avoid camera shake because you won’t have to touch the camera to take the photo.
Try to keep your lenses and camera sensors as clean and dust-free as possible as any particles will be exaggerated ad show up in the photo if they are on the lens.
If you are able to use more than one light, try one light being colored like blue or red to complement the subject.
Stefan shows what using one LED vs one white and one blue LED looks like and the difference it makes:
Keep experimenting with different camera settings, light angles and objects to get good at macro photography.
There are so many other elements you can go into with macro photography once you have mastered these basics. You can start to experiment with different backgrounds, using flash lighting, and focus stacking and photo blending in editing.
Which of these tips will you start to do macro photography THIS WEEK?