Macro Photography Tips

by Connie E Posted on February 21, 2011

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Shooting Macros can be tricky, but the stunning results are worth it.

What is Macro: Close up photography is the act of photographing objects such as flowers or insects in close range so the subject you are photographing fills the frame. In other words, it’s the act of photographing subjects close up. This is easily achievable with any lens, even a 300mm telephoto lens.

Macro photography is in essence close up photography as well. However, close up photography is not always considered true Macro photography. For example, if you have a lens that is NOT considered a real macro lens, yet offers a Macro setting (as many do nowadays), this is usually referred to as being close up photography, and not true Macro.

Lenses: Let’s talk more about lenses. There are Macro lenses and lenses that can shoot Macros. What am I talking about right? A real Macro lens has the capability of achieving at least a 1:1 magnification – which means that the size of the subject in focus is identical to the image sensor size in the camera (image sensors convert optical images to electric signals).

An image captured with a zoom lens (that can also do Macro), will be less sharp than an image taken with a “fixed” lens dedicated to Macro only. For example, the photo of the dragonfly at the end of this article wouldn’t show those individual hairs if I used a zoom lens.

The below image was taken with a 75-300 kit zoom lens. Pretty, but not as sharp as a true Macro lens because the magnification isn’t there. Its more of a “jack of all trades” lens.

Depth of field: when shooting close ups of flowers or bugs, depth of field can be measured in millimeters. Any slight error in focusing is going to be magnified and be out of focus. Remember everything in front and behind your focal point will be blurred. Also, changing your focus changes the magnification of the item.

Aperture: If you use a small aperture (large f-number) you will get the deepest depth of field.

Shutter speed: Remember when shooting bugs (that move) or flowers (on a windy day) you need to have a higher shutter speed to stop the movement. To be honest, for insects I actually like to wait until I find one that’s sitting still.

Focal length: I have a 100mm 2.8 lens because I shoot a lot of bugs, which gives me a longer focal length. With a longer focal length the bugs don’t seem as intimidated.

Background: When shooting plants/flowers, try to look at your background and keep it clean. I like to remove distracting limbs, leaves and or dead flowers.

Angles: Don’t be afraid to get down on your knees. Move around the flower for different angles of interest. I almost forgot. Find plants that are on the same plane to get everything in focus.

Macro photography takes patience and a lot of practice, but it is also very rewarding when you get the perfect shot! I can’t wait to see your shots in a Shutterfly photo book.

This is an image I took with my 100mm 1:1 2.8

This tulip macro was also taken with my 100mm 1:1 2.8. To get this shot I placed a piece of construction paper on a window that the sun was hitting. This made the beautiful background. The flower was approx 7 inches in front of the paper. My camera settings were ISO 400, WB flash (to add some warmth), f5.6 1/60 sec.

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  1. rsheedy Says:

    I am always amazed by your incredible macro photography. You are very inspiring…thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. lemaire26 Says:

    Your photography during the past 2 years has been absolutely AMAZING! Thanks for sharing the info in this article. I have lots to learn but your images inspire me to learn. Thanks!

  3. Joey Says:

    Your macro photography always amazes me. Like do bugs really look like that? Your work is very inspiring, I have so much to learn, but having a blast!
    Keep on inspiring us. Great article.

  4. AnnAbbott Says:

    You make a bug look great! You article was clear and very easy to understand. Great Job Connie!

  5. BarbaraJ Says:

    Great article! I know your reading every night you have learned so much so fast. I love your macro. Great article my friend.

  6. conniee4 Says:

    Thanks everyone! Come to my house this year and we’ll shoot bugs and flowers???!!!

more about Connie E

I am in love with life, my family and photography. In 2007 while working as a Detective on the Indpls Metro Police Dept., I injured my right shoulder and had to retire. I do believe this was God's way of letting me be a stay home Mommy. It was also at this time I began my passion for photography. I love creating memories and smiles with my photos. I love the challenge of making each photo beautiful. I am a big fan of a narrow depth of field in my photos. On a technical level this is called "Bokeh". I have been a member of Shutterfly since 2006 and a Shutterfly Gallery Guru since 2009. I am also ADDICTED to digital scrapbooking. (YOU MUST TRY) haha. Please stop by my shutterfly share site and take a look around! http://etterscreations1.shutterfly.com/

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