10 Must-Know Golden Rules of Macro Photography

Basic Macro Photography tips

First of all you need to get the right equipment. You can’t depend on just any lens to get a good shot and hope does not float in this situation. You should get yourself a good camera and I would recommend a Nikon or Canon brand with a good macro lens. The Canon 1DS Mark III with the 110mm macro lens is an appropriate choice here.

Your choice of subject may be tricky for good depth, especially if you choose to shoot an abstract with your subject.

Example: If you want to take a picture of part of a candlestick the lighting is important and imagination is as well. This can work well but DOF may be lacking to get the originality and high magnification needed. On the other hand, if you want to shoot an insect, magnification becomes an important element; DOF may be reduced but makes up an important part of the photo.

Exposure: 0.006 sec (1/180) Focal Length: 100 mm ISO Speed: 400 Exposure Bias: -1/2 EV

Without the need to sound too technical, to get a better depth of field you should set the camera at a higher F stop, the highest you could go will be f/8. If you increase the F stop then the aperture will become smaller and not enough light will reach the sensor.  If you do this you will have to use a flash, lengthen the shutter time or use the other sources of lighting that are available. If shooting an inanimate object increasing the shutter time is fine but if the subject is moving, you may choose to use the flash so the image does not blur.

If shooting a still photo, the use of a tripod is also quite useful. This is very important because you do not want the camera moving around as you are shooting macro photos. You should have a release on your tripod so you can move the camera while shooting and still have it attached. Macro photography is a wonderful way to create art when done properly. Subjects that may be hard to see with the eye can be explored and the image heightened with this type of photography. Whether you are home or in your garden, there are many subjects to choose from.

Consider things like texture, shapes and colors or anything that will make your subject more interesting. There are things like lighting and angles that can make you macro images more interesting also. To create your own macro studio, all you need is a box. Open the box in the front and the top and drape any color of fabric over it. Black drapes are wonderful to use when shooting an object of color.

For lighting your macro studio, you can use things such as reading lamps with reveal bulbs that will give a softer light than the general light bulbs. The trick is that macro photos are all about trying and retrying until you come up with the images desired. Results are rewarding and the art and creativity will become part of you and what makes it unique.

Exposure: 0.077 sec (1/13) Aperture: f/0 Focal Length: 0 mm ISO Speed: 100 Exposure Bias: -7/10 EV

The 10 Golden rules

  1. Be Steady – Use of a tripod is vital to keep the camera shaking to a minimum, it is especially important in macro photography.
  2. Wind – Macro photography is nearly impossible in the wind, be prepared with a wind break to allow you to get the right shot.
  3. Props – added impact is alright for your shots, a mist of water can give the feel of early morning dew.
  4. Sharpness – Use an aperture of f/11-f/22 so you can maximize your DOF. Keep the camera parallel to your subject; take test shots until you get the effect you want.
  5. Close up – Remember the 1:1 life-size photo is the best, you need your special lens, a focal length of 100-200mm is a good working distance.
  6. Focus Manually – Switch to manual focus, although auto focus is great normally, you want to have more control as you shoot your macro photos. For the best DOF, focus on the mid portion of your subject.
  7. Background – Try not to use the background the same color as your subject, bright lights and clutter will also draw the viewers focus away from the subject.
  8. Fill in Flash – When is low light a flash is great and on sunny days it will help eliminate shadows.
  9. Get the White right – Remember when shooting something of a very light color, you may want to compensate by adding a stop or two of positive exposure to compensate for underexposure.
  10. Diffuse light for Capturing Details – the use of a diffuser will help on those very sunny days; this will help you to maximize the details of a subject. The best time to shoot outdoors is on an overcast day. – Beginners
  1. Vim

    Nice post, very detailed explanation of the use of macro photography, a lot of elements has to be taken into consideration when practicing macro photography that i didn’t know about until i read this post.

  2. Steve Maggs

    I’ve been fascinated by macro photography for a while now (ever since I got a camera with a macro setting) and now want t start taking good macro shots. This is a really useful article and with some excellent examples too.


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