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Macro Photography – Get The Technique Right

Great macro photography begins with spotting a beautiful subject, but that’s just the beginning. What determines the final outcome of the shoot depends entirely on the understanding and technical skill of the photographer.

macro photography techniques
Photo By cw_ye

In order to master macro photography a photographer should have complete mastery over the equipments at his disposal and also a good understanding of the principles of shutter speed, aperture, depth of field, ISO etc.

The Technique of getting Sharp Macro Images

Stability is Paramount

The most important technique in macro photography is to minimize or rather eliminate camera shake. As macro photography involves tiny subjects that fill the entire frame, the tiniest bit of camera shake can ruin the image. Also in order to compensate for the loss of depth when moving in close on the subject macro shooters makes use of narrow apertures and hence reduced shutter speeds increasing the chances of shake.

Macro Photography
Photo By sylvain_latouche

Tips to Reduce Camera Shake

  •     Use a sturdy professional tripod and precision head, preferably a geared one.
  •     Enable the mirror lock up function in your camera
  •     Turn off image stabilization
  •     Use a remote shutter release or use the self timer function to trigger the camera.

Control Depth of Field with Aperture

The closer you get to your subject the lesser the depth of field you get with any given aperture. While an aperture of f/11 will be ample to keep all elements in focus in case of a landscape it will not be sufficient in case of macro photography. The closer you get to your subject the narrower the aperture will get to retain sufficient depth of field. For extreme macro greater than or equal to 1:1 magnification, an aperture of f/16 of f/22 will be required to keep the subject in focus. Use your camera’s depth of field preview button to determine the aperture value needed.

Macro Photography
Macro Photography

Ensure Accurate Focus

Although auto focus works just fine, for the ultimate results it is recommended to manually focus on the most important part of your subject (focus on the eyes In case of insects and other live subjects). A good technique is to set your lens to its maximum magnification and then slowly move the camera forward and backward to find the perfect focus. Accessories like a macro focusing rail will come in very handy for this job.

Macro Photography Tips
Photo By pipoujid

The Right Illumination

Lighting a subject for macro photography is a tricky business, it often involves special accessories like a flash bracket, ring flashes, twin flash heads etc. complicated lighting set-ups involves the use of ring/twin flash units with a third flash set as slave illuminating the background separately. We will discuss macro lighting in detail in a separate article. While using flashes and other light sources make sure you have the right illumination without any specular reflections.

Macro Photography Tips
Photo By thierrymarysael

ISO and Macro Photography

It is recommended to stick to ISO 100 for any work which involves the use of a tripod. However while working in the field shooting butterflies, dragonflies and other insects you may find that even in broad day light you might require the use of flashes and then you will notice your background turning dark. While in some cases it produces a nice look but in most others it does help to expose the background right just as well. Most modern digital camera’s handle high ISO’s really well so I recommend you to experiment smaller apertures with faster shutter speeds ,with flash and ISO 200,400 and 800 until you find a combination in which both the subject and background is well exposed, you have sufficient depth of field and high enough shutter speed to freeze movement and get tack sharp images.

Macro Photography Tutorial
Photo By Viamoi

So next time you see a potential subject for macro photography, Use your technical expertise and then capture it, true to life.

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Macro Photography - Macro Photography - Light It Right

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