macro-photography Up Close and Photogenic: Tips for Shooting Macro

You’re ready for your close-up. You just need the right angle, camera, and technique to make it a home run. Here’s where some experience would come in handy, but you don’t have it. What you do have is a thirst for knowledge. That’s good, because there’s a lot of it out there. Believe it or not, shooting with a camera isn’t too difficult and getting that close-up shot is even easier with digital cameras.

Consider The Distance

A macro shot is often what people think of as “close-ups.” These are the shots that are “ultra-close” and most people can take these with even a mediocre camera these days. But, all macro pros know that you don’t really want to get too close to the subject because you’ll get in the way of your own lighting and you’ll annoy any live subjects you’re trying to shoot. Thirdly, you end up showing the subject in an unnatural perspective.

For example, shooting two objects that are relatively close to one another, with one in the foreground and one in the background, the object in the foreground will appear much larger than the object in the background, even accounting for relative sizes of the two objects. So, a wrist watch will seem to be at least as wide as the wrist it’s on, even when, in real life, it’s not. That’s because the human eye has a hard time focusing on things closer than a foot away. When you shoot things closer than a foot away, it distorts the image when you look at it. Weird, huh?

Lens Choices

The lens choice is what really counts when you want to shoot high-quality close-ups. But, it’s not the lens sharpness that matters in close-up shots. Why not? Because there is no depth of field at macro distances so nothing is going to be in perfect focus anyway.

You’ll be shooting at around f/32, so keep that in mind when choosing your lens. Don’t bother with 50mm lenses. They’re basically useless for macro work. You have to get too close to use them, and then you run into the problem of shooting too close to the subject.

At minimum, you want a 100mm or 105mm lens. That way, you can stand or sit reasonably far away and still get the shot you want without disturbing the subject. Images will also seem more normal in perspective than if you shot really close up.

If you’re really serious about macro shots, spend the money and get a 180 or 200mm macro lens. This 200mm lenses, you’ll have about a foot or two of working distance between the lens and your subject. You’ll be able to light it well and it’s perspective won’t be messed up.

Magnification and Reproduction Ratios

The magnification ratio is the ratio between the size of the subject and the size of the image at the sensor or film. A good maco lens will have the reproduction ratios engraves on the focusing scale.

Focus Modes

Always, always, always use manual mode when doing macro shots. Most people have become addicted to automatic focus that they’re scared of going manual. Don’t be. Manual focusing is actually faster and more accurate than auto focus when doing macro shots.

Using Videos To Show Off Your Talents

When you’ve completed a successful shot, consider uploading a video about the process. Sure, there are a lot of videos out there on how to take good photos, but there aren’t enough. By shooting a video about your photo skills, you not only demonstrate how something is done, it creates a sort of reference file for later use if you somehow forget how you shot the subject. Plus, when you upload it to a site like YouTube, others can download the video using a program like the one on the site so they can watch it whenever they want. Everyone wins. Make sure to remember to respect IP with video downloads.

Steven Young loves all things photography and cameras. You can find his helpful articles on a variety of technology and photo blogs.