Secrets for capturing stunning macro photography

Secrets for capturing stunning macro photography

Bee On a Red Flower

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All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted. 

This blog post may contain affiliate links.  I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links. Click here for the disclosure statement.

All photos are original to the author unless otherwise noted.

Are you a photographer, wanting to learn how to take stunning macro photography? Or maybe you’re just interested in the world of macro photography. This post covers everything to get started in macro photography, including what equipment is best for the job, tips on taking pictures, and choosing a subject for your photos!

Black and White Lotus Flower

What is Macro Photography

A macro photo is a closeup of small objects, like insects or flowers, and makes them appear larger than they actually are. Macro photography captures incredible details and lets you see things not visible to the naked eye, which makes macro photos some of the most stunning images you can find! You can use any camera to shoot macro photography, but it’s best to use one with manual settings, like a mirrorless or DSLR camera. These types of cameras you allow you to change lenses or use extension tubes designed for getting close to the subject.

Micro Photography Vs. Macro Photography

Micro photography is a photographic technique that involves close-up photography of tiny things. It is a type of macro photography, which sometimes causes confusion, but macro photography has a much wider range. Micro photographs are usually taken using a microscope and have a magnification of 20:1 or greater; in other words, the images appear at least twenty times bigger than they do in real life. Micro photography requires special equipment you won’t find for a camera and isn’t a common type of photography.

How To Capture Perfect Macro Images

Use a single point focus.

Many photographers will recommend using manual focus so you can choose where to focus, but a single point, back button autofocus gives you that same control. A single point focus only focuses on what’s inside a tiny square and the back button autofocus removes the focus function from the shutter button and allows you to focus anywhere in the scene. After focusing, you can recompose the shot before hitting the shutter button.

Use focus stacking

At close range its hard to get the entire image in focus, use the post processing technique called focus stacking to make everything in the image sharp. Focus stacking enables photographers to combine multiple images, which all have different areas in perfect focus; then combine them into one image with an incredible depth-of-field that would be otherwise impossible when shooting normally!

Here are the steps we recommend following when trying out this process yourself:

  1. Use a tripod to take 3 or more pictures of the same subject, selecting a focus point in the front, middle, and back.
  2. Select all 3 images in Lightroom, right click, and select Open as Layers Photoshop.
  3. Select all the layers in Photoshop, then select edit in the toolbar and auto align layers. Choose the Auto setting in the pop-up.
  4. Select all the layers again and then select edit and auto blend layers. Choose the stack images option in the pop-up.
  5. Save the image and you will see the new edits in Lightroom.

Use different backgrounds

Change up the background and give your photos a new perspective. You can use backdrop boards for realistic simulations of walls or floors or get creative with scrapbook paper, curtains or other random objects around the house.

What are extension tubes and how do they work

Extension tubes are simple accessories that fit between your lens and camera body, which decrease the minim focusing distance and allow you to focus closer on things than normally possible. You may see them recommended as a cheaper alternative to buying an expensive macro lens, however I don’t recommend them for new photographers. Extension tubes don’t focus outside of a small range, some break the connection for auto settings, and can be finicky for a beginner to use.

camera settings for Shooting macro photography

To get the most out of your macro photography, use a wide aperture and a fast shutter speed. A wide aperture allows you to blur out any unnecessary background elements so that the viewer focuses on the subject and a fast shutter speed reduces motion blur. A good rule for shooting these types of pictures is 1/200th second shutter speed with an f2.8 aperture, but it depends on the amount of available natural light. If you need more light in order to use the ideal settings, I suggest adding a flash with a diffuser.

Best Macro Lenses

There are a lot of macro lens options out there so it’s hard to pick the best one – let alone understand what everything means! Here are some key features to look for when researching macro photography lenses.

Wide aperture

A wide aperture blurs the background. Macro lenses have large maximum apertures and they often come with optical stabilization features in order to cut down on blurriness. A good aperture for a macro lens is f/2.8 or wider.

Small Minimum Focusing Distance

One of the most common questions I get from new photographers is “why won’t my camera focus?!” My first response is “how close are you to the subject”. What many don’t realize is lenses have a minimum focusing distance which is the closest distance the lens can be to the subject and still focus. If you are closer than the minimum distance, the lens won’t be able to focus. A good focusing distance is around 12 inches or less.

Magnification

Lens magnification gives the appearance of being closer without getting closer, so macro lenses can help you capture beautiful details from afar. Most macro lenses have a magnification of 1:1, but some have up to 5:1, which means the lens magnifies the subject to 5 times greater than its size. Lens magnification allows you to shoot from further away so you don’t scare off your subject.

Macro photography Ideas

While there’s no specific subject with macro photography, there are several types of that really shine with this type of shooting. These include but aren’t limited to:

Blue Dragonfly on leaf with yellow flowers in the background

Insects

Purple Butterfly Bush

Flowers

Bubbles With a Green Background

Water droplets

Sun Shines On Orange Maple Leaves

Leaves

Spider Web Catches Morning Dew

Spider Web

Gold Blurry Circles Background Image

Abstracts

Getting the perfect macro shot takes some patience and practice, but the more you experiment with different settings or techniques, the better your results will get! We hope this article has helped you create a solid foundation for your next photo-taking adventure.

Author Bio

Author Bio Image

Delaney is a project manager by day and a travel and wildlife photographer by night who is using her skills for translating complex technical language into easy to understand concepts to make photography achievable at all skill levels. You have questions; she has answers.

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