So you want to dive head-first into the great big world of photographing little bitty things? That’s great, because macro photography is interesting, fun and rewarding, and it doesn’t take too much expertise to make awesome images right off the bat. What it does take is a bit of planning and the right equipment. Here’s what you need to know, followed by some essential gear.
So you’re ready to go macro, but how do you actually do it? Here are five tips for better macro results.
1. Understand depth of field and use DOF preview. Depth of field becomes increasingly important with macro subjects because it’s so limited. Even at ƒ/22, you’re bound to see parts of the scene that fall far out of focus. It’s no problem if those background elements should be out of focus, but what about the parts of the subject you want to be tack-sharp?
Let’s say you’re photographing a flower bud the size of a quarter. In order to ensure the whole thing is sharp, you first need to focus (using manual rather than autofocus) one-third of the way into the area you want sharp. So determine a point one-third of the way into the flower and then adjust your aperture until the whole thing is sharp. To check it, utilize the depth-of-field preview, or simply make an exposure and check it on the back of the camera. You’ll have no problem minimizing the depth of field in a macro shot, but if you’re not careful you can create a narrow field of sharpness and render the image a little too abstract. When it’s necessary due to shutter speed constraints, boost the ISO so you can use a smaller aperture without decreasing the shutter speed.
2. Shoot stationary subjects, especially early on. There’s never wind when you want to fly a kite, and there’s always wind if you want to shoot a macro image outdoors. Even a light breeze can translate into big movements when your subject is tiny.