A Beginner's Guide to Macro Photography
One of the most significant facets of photography is to bring to light the beauty in every day subjects. Macro photography in particular has the ability to make works of art of the smaller things in life. The subject matter in this area is endless — from insects and flowers to water droplets. You only need to look around the house for some interesting objects to shoot. You’ll need to know the ins and outs of this fascinating area of photography such as lighting and equipment to get started.
Macro Photography Jargon
True macro photography has a magnification rate of 1-1. If you use a non-full frame DSLR (an APS-C sensor size or cropped frame camera) the largest macro subject will be about 22 mm by 14 mm.
What Equipment You’ll Need
You won’t need a ton of room for a home macro studio nor will you have to spend a lot of money. (As little as 4 square feet will suffice…including your tripod!) And, you can easily pack up and store away your studio. You’ll also be able to use some of the same equipment that you use for regular photography.
Lighting for Macro Photography
If you're shooting high-key macro images, you’ll want to eliminate any shadows. You’ll need more than one light source such as a macro tent set up to soften the light. Savage offers the Adjustable Dual Arm LED Light that assists in accurately lighting objects at close range. The light provides a daylight balanced light source to illuminate fine detail captured at close range. It easily attaches to the top of your DSLR.
Lenses for Macro Photography
If you want to add flexibility to your macro lenses, extension tubes are an effective way to give you that extra boost to get up close to your subjects. Basically an extension tube is a hollow, light-tight tube that fits between your lens and your camera mount. It moves your lens further from the camera, and the front element closer to the subject. The closer you can focus, the more magnification you get.
A benefit of extension tubes is that you can use them with any of your lenses. Ideally, you’ll want to use short to medium focal length lenses to get the best effect. Using an extension tube with a telephoto lens will not yield the best results. You can even join two extension tubes together to give you even more magnification.
Savage's Macro Art Variable Auto-Extension Tube (available for both Canon and Nikon lenses) is an exclusive accessory for DSLR macro photography that combines the three most common automatic extension tubes into one integrated range. Conveniently adjust magnification strength without changing tubes, to proficiently capture fine detail with ease. It features gold plated contacts and a pure copper bayonet.
Using Extension Tubes
Start by setting you lens to manual focus and utilize the manual focusing ring on your lens to focus on your subject. You will experience some light loss so you’ll want to use a longer shutter speed or higher ISO to compensate for the decrease. If you are using the auto exposure setting, your camera will make the proper adjustments.
Use a trip to eliminate any camera shake and to get the maximum image quality. You’ll also end up with a very narrow depth of field when you’re shooting this close. Raise your ISO to also give yourself a small enough aperture setting to increase your depth of field. If you want to go with hand holding the camera, use a shutter speed of 1/250 of a second or more.
Other Tricks & Tips
Point of Focus
It is crucial to consider the specific point of focus when working close-up small subjects. You can dramatically change the appearance of your subject by where you choose to focus.
Add a ‘Third Hand’
Use a small clip to hold your subject matter. It will enable you to support it and provide endless possibilities of positioning backgrounds.
It’s best practice to fine-tune your composition in-camera whenever possible. Ensure your patterns fill the frame completely so that there are no gaps around the edges or zoom out to to show the entire pattern with space all around it.