The Wonderful World of Macro

If you’ve got a wife, or a girlfriend or actually anyone that’s special you’ve probably already discovered something that puts a smile on that person’s face every single time you show up with it. Flowers. Now, aside from being beautiful and the fact that they smell rather nice, they also lend themselves to another great cause. Photography (was it so obvious?) 

If you think about it, they’ re the perfect subjects. They don’t move (unless you’re outdoors), they don’t need make-up and wardrobe changes, they don’t whine when you’re fumbling around with your settings, trying to remain calm as your flashes misfire, or you triggers fail. They just stand there looking beautiful, what would a photographer want more? 

Another thing that makes them really good for photography is that they’re so detailed. From far away they look really pretty and colorful, put if you take a close look at ’em, and I mean a real close look at ’em you’ll discover a whole new world. A detailed world, filled with endless textures, and details you’ll want to shoot. Welcome to the wonderful world of macro-photography. 

After the jump, I’ll show you how I like to shoot ’em and flash ’em.

One other awesome thing about flowers is that they’re easy to get. You just go to the florist and buy some. If you say they’re for a photo shoot (bragging on the sidelines about your photography) or you know the florist he’ll probably give you the best in the pack. 

Now there are a couple of thing you need to keep in mind whilst doing macro photos. First of all, and this is a conditio sine qua non you absolutely, positively need a tripod. You’re going to be shooting something from very, very up close which means the slightest movement will produce blur in your pictures. 

Second, depending on the effect you want to create you’re either going to want a very shallow depth-of-field, which translates itself into 1.8, 2.8 maybe or a very wide, and all-round detailed look which works best at f/22.

Third, if you want pictures of flowers that really ‘stand out’ of the background, try using seamless black paper as a background. If you have a wall roll of black paper, even better. 

 

f/22 @ 1/5th , ISO 200, 105mm-macro

Another golden rule for macro is to use a macro lens. (duh!). Alongside that you absolutely need to turn autofocus off, you’ll feel much more comfortable 

once you have full control over your image 

Shutter release is up next. I already discussed why we need a tripod, and it’s exactly the same for the shutter release button. Even though you might have the 

hands of a surgeon, every touch creates a vibration, and thus blur. Nikon makes the incredibly inexpensive ML-L3 remote, which works with the better half of 

Nikon dSLR’s and for the other models there are dedicated release shutter buttons. What these do essentially, is that they let you take a picture without 

touching the camera, and thus creating no blur. 
Tip : if you’ve forgotten your remote, or don’t have one and don’t want to buy one, just use the self-timer on the camera, it’ll do just the same!

Another crucial aspect is lighting. You could use specialized off -camera lighting but the thing is, if you’re shooting something like flowers, 

you’ll be amazed at the results you can obtain from simple natural light. Both pictures in this post were taken next to a window and without extra light.

 

Well there you go, a brief tour around macro photography. Be sure to give it a try, you’ll get some amazing results. 

To sum up a checklist. 

-Use a tripod!
-Choose your DOF
-Remote release!
-Turn autofocus off
-Choose your background carefully
-Shoot, shoot, shoot!

‘Till next time,

 

Morgan

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