The place to share your macro photography

How to improve macro photography

littletank   April 19, 2008, 10:48 AM

I joined this group several weeks ago in the hope that I might gain some knowledge on how to improve my macro photography. I am unable to to get outside due to age and arthritis therefore I need to develop in the house interests and table top and macro seemed a way to achieve this. Looking at posted images is a help but constructive criticism is also very valuable. So, what must I do to try to get what I want? Perhaps I will never get what I would like to achieve here and I need to look elsewhere.

Please give me the benefit of your experience.

littletank   April 20, 2008, 08:15 AM

I had a reply from Stephen Robinson which, for some reason, has not appeared here and for which I thank him. He indicated in his reply that this group was just for sharing images taken with a macro lens. I presume any close-up arrangement not just a special lens is acceptable.

cosmonautirussi   April 20, 2008, 08:35 AM

What leaves is the question on improvement, what always seems to be welcome... :)

... I would think that a good handlung of DOF ( / ) will be a key for a 'good' macro photo. In addition the composition of colours/lights.

I think lightning is very often a special problem for macro photography. Why special tools like ring flashes often are being used...

What else leeds to good macro photos?

Karthik Seetharaman   April 20, 2008, 08:40 AM

I would say practice, practice and more practice. Good equipment is always a factor. But its taking loads of images that will make you understand the finer aspects of lighting, DOF and composition.

Criticism is sometimes muted as people do not take it for what it is - a view. They make it personal and it soon degenerates into name calling and vitriolic attacks.

So, go ahead, shoot a lot more and post a lot more and criticism is sure to come =)

Happy shooting my friend.

littletank   April 20, 2008, 10:18 AM

Thanks to cosmonautirussi and Maddy for your encouragement and advice which are very welcome. I do understand what you say about crititicism but, as long as it is constructive, it is always useful.

clvrmnky   June 14, 2008, 11:01 PM

Ideally this photogroup is for photos taken with macro equipment -- either a P&S in macro mode or a DSLR rig with a macro lens -- but anything that is close to 1:1 is ok by me.

It is so easy to find subjects for macro photos that the advice to practice makes a lot of sense. It also depends on what sort of macro photogrpahy you want to do. There is a fair amount of skill involved in setting up the perfect macro scale shot to preserve as much detail as possible. There are people who specialize in this sort of scientific macro photography, where the photo is really a informational artefact. This is the sort of macro work that wants good lenses (perhaps one with tilt/shift), an articulated tripod and fancy light boxes and/or multiple flashes.

But there is a fair amount of artistic composition that can be fun at the macro level with the most modest equipment. This is almost portraiture or still-life photography, just at a smaller scale. In this case it helps to have a good source of light, a table-top tripod and a camera with very good auto-focus or manual focus functionality. The challenge is often getting the DOF right for the shot, since the focus plane tends to be very short, even when stopped down a bit.

Since the on-camera flash is much too harsh and probably causes the lens to cast a shadow across the subject area, one the first things many people do is build or buy themselves a lightbox. There are plenty of examples lightbox designs you can build that can be found on the internet.

And not all macro is the same. If you are crazy for pictures of bugs and little creatures, most macro modes want you to be centimetres from the subject, which may be a little too close for comfort -- for both you and the bug! This is where a D/SLR really shines, since most of the good macro lenses (and here Nikon sets the standard by which all macro glass is compared) are actually teles, allowing you to stand well away from your subject while still capturing a 1:1 macro frame.

But there is plenty that can be done with even the most modest equipment, so get in there close and get crazy for the details! Everything looks different close up.

A word to the wise: chasing clearer and clearer images with finer and finer detail is a bit of a disease. You may find yourself lusting after obscure Japanese and German lenses with more knobs and switches than a Formula 1 car. Imagine when I found out that I could easily do photomicrography with my camera.

For fun, check out Nikon's photomicrography site:

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