I noticed that most photographers are fascinated by the idea of macro photography; being able to see the details on full screen which you otherwise cannot spot with a naked eye is indeed very interesting and addicting. But, if you tried to take macro shots and did not succeed (i.e. your photos were simply blurred), you could have given up by now. Although making macro shots is somewhat harder than the regular shots, it is not as hard as it may seem to you at first glance. I know what you tell yourself:
“I can’t take pro macro shots, my camera is not good enough for it”
After this article, you will be inspired to try a few more times and you will see that your results will get better without having to upgrade to a better, more expensive model. So, let’s get started…
This is the most crucial and essential element in taking macro shots, if you get too close — your image blurs, if you are too far away, it is no longer a macro shot. Check your camera’s manual; all the recent cameras manufactured over the past years support at least some sort of macro photography focus, the question is only, what is the maximum distance you can get to the object. Let’s say, your maximum distance to the subject is 1 inch, so when taking macro photos, make sure you are not closer than 1 inch to your object.
Macro Focus Mode
Every camera has a set of automated and semi-automated modes to get you started. If you are not sure what focal length, exposure and aperture to use, start off with any of the semi-automated modes, such as “portrait” or “macro” (if such settings exist). i would not recommend using manual focus for beginners unless you take a close shot on an object laying on a plain surface, in which case your camera is more likely to focus on the object and not on anything else. Otherwise, if you are photographing a flower somewhere deep in the leaves, your camera may focus on the wrong spot.
Therefore, it’s better to start with a mode that tells your camera where to focus (in this case — on the closest object).
Some beginner photographers assume that if they use a regular (not SLR) camera and will use optical zoom on macro mode, the shot will be even closer and capture more micro-details… WRONG. When you use optical zoom, this is the same if you actually move your camera physically closer to the object. And if you have any distance limit (using the previous example — 1 inch), and you add x2 optical zoom, i.e. you are taking the picture from 1/2″ distance, which is already too close for your camera to focus and you will end up with a very blurred image.
The only case in which you can use Optical Zoom for macro photos is when you are unable to get as close as you’d want to (if your are shooting a a live object). In that case you use all teh regular macro settings and zoom in to get the best results from longer distance but then again you need to measure exactly how “close” your getting to the object thanks to your zoom
Another aspect to bear in mind when photographing from a very close distance. ISO determines the quality of your photo, and the whole idea of macro photography is to get the highest quality details. This means, if you don’t have very good light condition and set your your ISO to anything higher than 200, your shot will be grainy. Ideally, make sure you are photographing in good light conditions with ISO below 100.
Although this would depend on your distance from the object, you should always think twice before using flash.
What you can use Flash?
In macro photography, especially if you don’t have the needed light condition, you can use flash without blinding your picture by simply taking a bigger distance from the object and use optical zoom. In this instance, flash fires and makes up for any bad light condition, guarantees the ultimate light and hence quality, at the same time, it fires at certain distance so it does not turn your photo into a one big white stain.
When you should not use Flash?
If you are shooting 1 inch away from the object and use flash — your image will be just overly bright. When flash fires so close, the reflection on the object (whatever it is, does not have to have a glossy surface) will be too strong. NEVER use flash when taking a close up photos of the eye — you can cause serious damage to the person’s / animal’s vision!
Macro photography allows you to unfold the artistic and creative nature of any object. If you take a shot of, let’s say, a flower — from a regular distance, it will be nothing but a snapshot of what you saw. if you get closer and create an interesting angle, focusing on any of the details, here you go — artistic photo and there is no need to even think of composition because once you zoom in — you already have a tasteful close-up composition with minimum unneeded details. It is always a good idea
The Ultimate Way to Learn
You don’t need to have natural born skills and talent to be a brilliant photographer (though that may also help), you just need to learn to do it right. Go to Flickr, and chose the camera you own. Browse other macro shots you find that were taken by others, and click on “More Properties” link below the Additional Information column (at the right bottom corner. Check what settings others used and you will be amazed how it will help you to improve with YOUR own camera, without having to upgrade to a better model.