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What is macro photography?

Macro photography requires the lens to be positioned close to the subject. It’s not only used for photographing small subjects, but also fine details. Macro photography provides a wonderful new perspective on subjects and uncovers elements that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Butterfly

Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash


Lenses

Since macro photography requires the subject to be very close to the lens, it’s best to use a macro lens. Macro lenses are designed to create space between the camera and the subject, rather than you having to have your camera just millimeters from the subject. They come in a few different focal lengths, the most popular being 90 -105mm. You can also find focal lengths of 50mm or 60mm, which have shorter working distances, meaning you will have to be very close to the subject.

Working distance is the distance between the sensor and your subject. Depending on your subject, you most likely want to use a lens with a large working distance. The working distance increases with the focal length. This allows you some space between you and your subject. The working distance also increases when the magnification decreases. For instance, you can stand farther away at 1:4 magnification compared to 1:1 magnification. A 1:1 magnification means your subject is as big on the sensor as it is in real life. 1:1 magnification also means your macro lens with have trouble focusing, which leads me to discuss focusing.

Water Droplet

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Detail of leaf

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer on Unsplash


Focusing

You’ll want to focus manually, as the autofocus of most macro lenses is not fast enough to keep up with the shaking that comes with 1:1 magnification.

A tripod is a great way to help with the shaking, however it is not always practical for shooting Marco; it really depends on the subject matter. If you’re shooting a static subject in a studio then, by all means, use a tripod. But if you’re outdoors shooting flowers or insects then you may want to rethink the tripod, as you may have lost your subject by the time you have everything set up.

A great way to steady your camera when shooting without a tripod is to hold the camera with both hands and anchor your elbows into your sides, or, if you are sitting, anchor your elbows to your legs. The idea is to create a triangle. The more you can anchor yourself, the more stability you will have. Another little tip to help with stability is to take the shot in between your breaths. You probably don’t even think about it, but your breathing alone creates a lot of shake. Try holding your breath after you have exhaled and take the shot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the difference.

Rather than using the focus ring to focus, try to slowly shift towards your subject and then take the shot. Take lots of photos, and expect to throw a lot away.

Eye

Photo by Vanessa Bumbeers on Unsplash


Shutter Speed

As previously mentioned, even the littlest thing can cause enough vibration to make your photo blurry. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to use a high shutter speed. Start with 1/250 or faster. If you are using a speedlight flash, you can get away with having a little slower shutter speed and avoiding a dark background.

Coffee Beans

Photo by Shakil Hussain

Behind the Scenes

Photo by Shakil Hussain


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