Review the simple guide into macro photography for beginners, including the set of useful ideas for practicing and boosting photography skills.
Macro photography is one of the most engaging photography genres as it gives viewers a close-up look at things we usually don’t even notice. Lots of professional wildlife and underwater photographers shoot their most mesmerizing images in macro, and close-ups also play an important role in images for design projects and social media.
The advantage of macro photography is that it can be shot on the variety of gear, from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera, or even your smartphone with the proper lenses. If you want to improve your macro shots, you can use these easy tips on macro photography listed in this article along with ideas on what to shoot close-up. And if you practice enough to get awesome macro shots, you can even upload them to some stock photography website like Depositphotos and start earning a passive income as a freelance photographer.
1. Clean Your Lenses
Cleaning your lenses regularly is the first advice for any photography genre, but when it comes to shooting macro, it’s even more crucial. Small impurities are hard to notice with a naked eye, but any dust or smear will ruin the perfect shot. Even if you don’t see them, there are probably micro dust particles that will be visible in the final shots. Get a habit of cleaning your lenses often.
2. Use Natural Light Source
In most cases, natural light is better than artificial light. Natural light gives you more control in the post-production stage. However, macro photos can be tricky in terms of the lack of light even with good lighting conditions due to small apertures. The best solution is to get light diffusers.
You can experiment with light diffusers in well-lit spaces and outdoors to make your macro pictures brighter. If you don’t want your images to look too artificial and reach a more natural look with lighting, experiment with different types of artificial light. Diffusers can be purchased or you can create a DIY one.
3. Don’t Mix Lighting Types Indoors
When you shoot indoors, you can use flash with a diffuser and one light source, but it’s better not to mix different types of lighting. For example, if you turn on some LED decoration lights for a nice background, use your flash as an only extra source of lighting. Don’t turn on any additional lamps since they will likely make your shots unbalanced.
4. Tripod is a Must
It’s important to keep your camera steady, especially with macro photography. Since your focal length is pretty long, your images might get blurry even if your hands are slightly shaking. To avoid it, you should always opt for stabilizing your gear.
The easy solution is to purchase a tripod if you can afford one. That way, you can always be sure your pictures are sharp, focused, and clear. A tripod is a great investment for many of your future experiments with different photography genres.
5. Move the Object Instead of Your Camera
Once your camera is fixed and steady, it’s better not to move it. If it’s possible, try to move the object you shoot instead, especially when you’re shooting still life indoors. Of course, this doesn’t apply to shoot moving objects outdoors, but when you have a controlled environment indoors, keep your camera fixated.
Finding the right composition, exposure, and focus when you shoot close-ups can be tricky. Set up your camera and make sure the lighting works, and this will help you experiment and improve your macro shots drastically.
6. Try To Focus Manually with Any Gear
Most modern photo equipment has auto-focus. However, its algorithms are rarely precise, and that’s especially true for shooting macro photos. Since you really need to make sure your object stands out in close-up pictures, always use manual focus regardless of the gear you use.
7. Experiment with Perspectives, Angles, and Composition
Composition plays an important role in macro shots, just like with all the other photography genres. That’s why it’s a good idea to try to change your position to search for unconventional angles and perspectives when shooting macro.
With macro photography, the slightest change in camera angle can make all the difference. Usually, your subject or object will decide the vantage point for you. With these limitations, there’s still plenty of room to experiment with in terms of angles and perspectives as you readjust the positioning. Don’t forget about basic composition rules when shooting – you need this even for macro shots.
8. Don’t Forget To Leave Some Negative Space
Empty space around subjects and objects in your photos plays an important role in your images. It can radically change the perception of your photos, make them more visually appealing, and create a dramatic effect.
When it comes to macro photography, your object is already pretty close, but leaving some space around is still important. Take a series of photos with the same subject varying its composition and negative space, and then analyze it when you upload your images to your computer. It will help you see what works best for different subjects.
Keep practicing all the time
Regardless of the gear you use and whether you have a macro lens or not, you can still experiment with macro photography with the tools you already have. The key is to shoot as often as you can since you need much practice to improve your skills. Don’t be harsh on yourself when your images aren’t as great as you want them to be, and keep practicing to see better results in the future.
Macro Photography Ideas
There are always some interesting things to shoot, even if you are stuck at home. Here are some ideas on what you can shoot indoors and outdoors.
Inside your house
Any house has at least a few interesting details to shoot so keep an eye out for objects at home. You might find tons of things you can shoot, from a detail on a chandelier to a reflection on your door handle.
Textiles look very intriguing close-up. Different types of cloth significantly vary in their structure, which makes them versatile for macro photography. The best part here is that you already have lots of different textile materials at home, so you can easily experiment with different textures.
Kitchen and food macro
Your kitchen is an awesome place to find inspiration since it has a variety of objects and potential subjects. Start with shooting surfaces and groceries close-up and always keep an eye out for interesting details as you shop.
Bubbles in liquids
Carbonated drinks look intriguing in close-up. It’s an interesting idea to try to shoot bubbles in a glass with a fizzy drink or add dye and other materials to plain water. You can place some fruit slices and ice cubes in your glass as well to add more structure and contrast to the liquids you shoot.
Outside your house
Flowers and greenery
It’s easy to hone your macro photography skills in summer since you are surrounded by all sorts of flowers and plants! They are one of the most common subjects for close-up shots because of the colors and variety in textures. Any season of the year provides something new to shoot, particularly plants with intriguing details.
All kinds of bugs
A popular subject of macro photography is insects. There are a lot of bugs outside, and they are way easier to shoot in close-up than animals and birds. Although many people are afraid of insects, most of them like watching bug life through the lenses of macro photographers, it’s always fascinating to see images with so many details when photographers focus on different bugs, butterflies, dragonflies, and ants.
Although most people don’t pay any attention to stones in their everyday life, they are actually a good subject for stunning macro shots. You shouldn’t think that it’s a boring way to practice macro since stones and minerals look very different close-up. And you can find something to shoot right after you leave your house! Regardless of the area and nature zone you live in; you can always find different rocks to practice macro on.
Toys in nature surroundings
Placing some toy figures in unusual surroundings can bring in some excellent macro shots. You can find ideas and inspiration for this format all around Instagram. Although you can shoot still life with toys indoors, placing them in greenery will add a whimsical touch to your pictures.
A classic macro photography topic! Water droplets are an incredible subject for close-up shots, especially if you manage to catch a reflection in them. Taking such shots outdoors leaves some space for experimenting with natural surroundings. For example, you can try to shoot water drops on grass blades for delicate and inspirational images.
Macro is not an easy genre of photography due to the technical difficulties one might encounter during the photoshoots. If you are a beginner, it’s easy to get lost in all the technicalities and trying to get just the right amount of light for impressive shots. That’s why macro might be an unexplored genre with many beginner photographers.
Although it takes a lot of patience and practice to get better macro shots, it’s worth the effort for the sake of improving your skills in this genre. Macro can teach you a lot about photography in general, and it also brings stunning and unexpected results.
About the author: this is the guest post by Anna Pozdeeva, a graduate from Moscow State University with a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, currently a writer at Depositphotos covering visual culture and topics on marketing.