Are you hesitant to dive into macro photography because it seems too difficult to get started? Or have you already made your first attempts of close up or macro photography only to find the resulting picture looking blurry, poorly lit or otherwise dissatisfactory?
This type of result is common, especially if this is your first attempt at the macro style. My hope is by the time you finish reading this article you will be able to get much better results when you capture tiny worlds or small subjects.
#1: Choose the Best Lens for Macro Photography
The foremost challenge photographers face with this style of photography is being able to get close to the subject. For this very reason, I recommend obtaining specialized equipment for macro photography. Some of this equipment could include any of the following lenses:
Macro Specific Lenses
A macro lens looks similar to a standard lens but internally is vastly different. The glass optics inside are formed in one group. This grouping allows the photographer to get physically closer to a subject. What I find this type of lens offers compared to the standard ‘kit’ lens (typically an 18-55mm lens) is the minimum focus distance.
Alternatively, Buy a Used Macro Lens or Use Extension Tubes
If you find the price too expensive, then there are other options. The first one that comes to mind is to research and purchase a pre-owned macro lens. Despite having been used before, they will in most cases, produce photos that are just as sharp.
If you are planning to buy your lens secondhand, ensure you inspect it properly before purchasing. Look for signs of mold or scratches on the inner glass. If you see any of these issues, forget about buying the lens and move on.
#2: Control Your Point of Focus
Now we have covered macro lenses we need to take control of your camera. Understanding how your camera works will lead to better use of your equipment. For macro photography, this could mean the difference between a blurry shot and one that is in focus. One of the main things you should control when taking macro photos is the focus point on your camera.
To control your focus point, you first have to switch your camera off automatic. You could choose from many settings including Program Auto (P) or manual modes such as Aperture Priority (AV or A), Shutter Priority (TV or S) or Manual (M). Program Auto is recommended if you are just starting out in photography. Once you have selected the shooting mode, you will need to identify where the focus menu is located. All cameras adjust the focus in two ways, through a knob or joystick on the back of the camera. To find out where yours is located, I recommend you consult your instruction manual.
#3: Get as Close as You Can
Once you have found out how to change the focus point, then proceed to move the focus point over the subject on which you wish to focus. Remember if you are physically too close to your subject your lens may not focus. I do recommend you get as close as you can though. With the majority of macro photography lenses, the minimum focus distance is approximately 30 cm, measured from the camera sensor, meaning that the subject might be as close as 10 cm from the tip of your lens. If you find the lens does not focus, all you need to do is move back and forth until you discover the ‘spot’ where your subject becomes sharp.
#4: Choose a Suitable Subject
If you want to capture macro subjects outdoor, it’s worth doing a bit of research of where and how to find suitable subjects to photograph. For instance, if you are looking at capturing images of insects (like dragonflies), you must discover their location, their breeding seasons and what behaviors you should expect to encounter and capture. The more details you can gather, the more exciting your images will be.
Some of these things can be learned online, but you should observe things like behavioral characteristics in the field. By studying the insect, you will learn when to press the shutter button based on the insect’s behavior at any given time.
Another thing to consider is the time of day you choose to photograph your subject. If you are looking at photographing insects the best time of day is the early morning just after sunrise. Insects are most dormant at this time of day, so the majority of them will sit still long enough for you to get a great shot.
#5: Use a Longer Focal Length for Living Subjects
If you find you are struggling to get close to an insect or another living subject, then you will have to reconsider your approach. For example, could you use a longer focal length lens to get closer, while being at a greater distance away from your subject? An additional lens that contains a longer focal length is something many professional photographers will carry with them. If you wish to buy one of these lenses for yourself, look for a focal length of around 105mm to 150mm. At these focal lengths, you will be able to get close, without being physically close.
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