Hi, deviants! This week is Community week, and I am giving my best to introduce some essential tips concerning macro photography.
But first of all: What is macro photography?
Macro photography - what is it about?
Wikipedia tells us things like "extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size" (Source: Wikipedia.org)
But is that really all that matters? It is a common fact that many people believe that macro photography is photography which refers to life size, which means 1:1. The object is the same size on your sensor/film it is in real life.
"Great thing, but I cannot start macro photography, since I do not have a macro lens."
That's what many people think. It is not the lens or the camera taking the pictures. Of course everything is made easier for us when we use a macro lens, but if you do not have any knowledge about your camera settings, then you will just take snapshots, even with the most expensive camera ever. If you do not know what I mean, then check out this journal, it will help you!
Right. As I already said, it is not that difficult to take macro shots, or to come close the 1:1-ratio, even with a Kit lens!
You do not know how? Then listen to me, I will try to explain it to you.
Which equipment is absolutely necessary?
That's a fact many people ask me, actually.
As I said, it is not the camera taking the pictures, and it is also not the lens. It is the photographer taking pictures, and that's why it is up to you how to take pictures! You may choose the angle, composition, etc.
So I would not say you need the newest Canon-Mark III or the Nikon D800 to take great pictures, the megapixel size of the sensor does also not count that much (almost always it is better to stick around 10MP, since there are not that many pixels on one millimeter, and the grain is reduced then). But what I would really recommend is a DSLR, because while a "normal" Digicam may have the best macro mode ever, it will never have the ability to create shallow depth of field, which is important for a "good" macro photo. (Which does not mean you cannot take great pictures with a point and shoot-camera, but I will continue with DSLRs now.)
You do not even need a macro lens for macro photography.
"Oh really??" will some people ask now. Yes, it is possible, and you can also take even higher scales (like 2:1 [the object is twice the size on your sensor as it is in real life) with you Kit lens, which is normally a 18-55mm lens. I do also own one, and I began my passion for macro photography with this Kit lens.
Which equipment is optional?
I personally own a closeup-filter, which really helps me to get much closer to the object. But I will talk about that later.
Helpful are also extension tubes, which increase the focal distance of your lens. I never tried it, but many people told me it is a great alternative to a macro lens, too.
Optional is also an adapter for sticking your lens upside down towards the camera, which means: The electrical devices are pointing towards you then, not to the camera!
What are the techniques?
Yes, I used the plural, since there is more than one technique!
I will try to explain them to you in a short, but understandable way.
1. Reverse macro technique
This technique does not require any purchase of additional equipment, since you only need your kit lens, or any other lens, which can also have a wide angle (10-50mm).
Step 1: Remove your lens from your camera.
Step 2: Turn it around 180°, so that the electrical devices turn towards you.
Step 3: you only need step 3 if you have a retro-adapter, which allows you to stick the lens reversed to your camera. If you do not have an adapter, skip to step 3a. Put on the reverse adapter to your lens (like a filter) and put it on your camera again. Tada, you have a selfmade macro lens!
Step 3a: If you do not have an adapter, do it like I do: Take your lens and hold it to your camera, which can be quite complicated.
Since you cannot choose the settings to use, just do experiments. There is no general formula for doing this, but I am sure you will make it when you spend a little time on it.
Pictures taken with that technique:
2. Getting closer to the object with the help of Extension tubes ([link])
These tubes allow you to get closer to the object, since their closest focussing distance is avoided here. The focal length of the lens is increased through the millimeters you win with them. You can go closer to the object and focus normally, like you did before.
How to use it: You put it behind your lens, between lens and camera.
Advantage: You get no loss of quality.
Disadvantage: Since the lens is "longer", the light needs more time to travel through it, which leads to a loss of light. Also, when you buy cheap ones, there are no electrical connections in it and you cannot choose aperture or shutter speed anymore.
I personally did never use any tubes, but maybe you prefer trying that method out.
Pictures taken with that technique:
3. Getting closer to the object with the help of close-up-filters ([link])
This method allows you to lower your closest focussing distance by the use of a filter. You put it on in front of your lens. The Closeup-filter operates like a magnifying glass, depending on which dioptre you use. Be careful: You need to go much further to the object, which means that the depth of field gets really shallow.
Advantages: More light comes in, the pictures are brighter
Disadvantages: The image quality gets lost a bit if you do not buy expensive filters.
Pictures taken with closeup-filters:
Finally, some tips for macro photography, and then I will come to an end.
Use composition rules like
the rule of thirds
the golden ratio.
2. Avoid distracting objects in your picture, try to focus on only one object.
3. The most important one: Take care of the focus
. Some millimeters handshake may lead to unsharp pictures. I recommend a tripod or a really calm hand.
the focus is behind the flake
focus behind the flake
4. Get close to your object. The closer you get, the more shallow will be your depth of field.
My final snowflake-pictures:
The last tip is very simple:
Shoot, shoot, shoot!
I hope this tutorial helped you a bit. If you have got questions, just note me or write it in the comments!
I wish you a Merry Christmas!