Macro Photography is an amazing way to capture incredible detail of scenes we may have otherwise overlooked with our regular eyesight.
“Macro photography” refers to the technique of getting really, really super-duper close to something (usually something small), and making your tiny subject appear larger than life.
Macro photography encapsulate all the great things we love about photography: form, abstract, color, lines, and most of all: using the camera to reveal something hidden, even though it’s right in front of us.
Macro photography makes us feel like we have a super power – we get to reveal all the secret worlds and share them. It’s always exciting to find something totally regular, and demonstrate how – when you look real close – it appears completely alien. And you can do it, no matter which camera you have!
You can create a whole world on a blade of grass, or clearly highlight Abe Lincoln on the back of a penny (he’s sitting there in the middle of the Lincoln Memorial).
Here is a list of links to capture amazing macro shots, using whatever gear you may have:
Point and Shoot
Shooting with a Smartphone
Shooting with your smartphone doesn’t have to be a compromise! You’ll be amazed by the results you can achieve with your phone. Check out this great article on some tips to get your smartphone macro groove on.
(Here’s an quick extra tip: Drip a drop of water on your phone’s camera. It will stick thanks to science, and serve as a great, natural macro lens. Even Scientific American says it works!)
DSLR: Using Macro Accessories
You can purchase some DSLR accessories that will get your regular, non-macro lens, a bit closer to the action. The most popular are Close-up Filters and Extension Tubes. This will make a huge difference, but it won’t be anything like shooting with a proper macro lens. However on a limited budget, these accessories work great and can help you achieve close-ups that you couldn’t possibly get using a regular lens. Check out some options on Amazon here and here. (As with all filters, I recommend buying 77mm size, and then just get multiple “step-up rings” to match all of your lenses to the filter).
Reverse Lens Trick
Another great trick on a budget is the “Reverse Lens Macro” technique, where you essentially place a reversed 50mm lens in front of a zoom lens (preferably 100-200mm range). Check out this great tutorial and this one. All you really need is some duct tape, some gall, and some patience!
Using a Macro Lens
Of course the ideal way to shoot macro photography is using a DSLR with a macro lens.
Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of all the different options to get you started.
I recommend this beauty, pictured here. This is by far the best glass that I own, absolutely beautiful lens, macro or not!
Some General Tips
The most important thing to keep in mind – as with all shots – is to get the focus right. Since the viewer will be looking at your subject in such great detail, it’s really important to make sure it’s as tack sharp as possible!
In short: small aperture (large number), tripod, an abundance of light, manual focus, and a creative mind.
To get your entire composition in focus, you may also want to check out an incredible post-processing technique called Focus Stacking.