Here’s a fun photography challenge for you: shooting macro photography. Since this is meant to be enjoyable, I’m going to suggest that you ignore the rules and just play around. (Honestly, if you Google “macro photography”, there are a whole lot of rules on the internet…)
What is macro photography?
In a nutshell, macro photography is extreme close-up photography, usually at a 1:1 ratio. Technically, this requires a special lens for your camera. However, for this challenge, we’re going to be having fun with the camera and lens you own.
I mentioned a nutshell in the previous paragraph. That would make a great subject for a macro shot.
I took this shot of a nutshell and some lichen on a rock in our neighborhood last spring. I had given myself the challenge of walking every road in our development of Kingsmill. Needless to say, I was not carrying my DSLR on my daily walks.
So, when I saw this scene, I pulled my trusty iPhone 11 Pro out of my pocket and started shooting. I used the telephoto lens that is built in and got down close to the nutshell. I also set the iPhone to portrait mode. (In Portrait mode, there is a limit on how close you can get. The iPhone will warn you if you are too close.) I love the detail in the shot. That’s something you get when you’re shooting macro photography.
Flowers make great macro subjects, but any movement will be emphasized, so shooting indoors is a real advantage.
I shot this photo of a white flower in our apartment in Seoul. I composed the shot with the center of the flower on a thirds line and also put a piece of black poster board behind it, to make the flower pop off the background. Don’t you love the details of the veins in the edges of the petals where they meet the black background?
For this shot, I aimed the flower towards a large window to fill the petals with light. I was hoping to backlight the translucent petals, which is a fun trick when you are shooting macro photography.
In this case, I did use a Macro lens. Placing the camera on a tripod allowed me to shoot at a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds. That allowed me to set a very narrow aperture of f/32, which in turn allowed much more of the flower to be in focus.
I’ve cropped it to a square for this post, but I’m planning on cropping it again and printing it at 30 X 40 inches on metal. That’s one of the fun things you can do with macro shots! They can make great fine art.
What about food?
You can shoot much more than just flowers! For this photo, I placed orange slices in a glass of sparkling water. Don’t you love the trapped bubbles? This would also be a great technique for shooting a strawberry in a glass of champagne. 😉
I wasn’t finished with the orange! For this shot, I stuck a thin slice to the window in our apartment in Seoul. The light coming through it emphasized the details of the parts of the orange. True confession… while I was crouching down to shoot this, someone walked into the room. What can I say? It’s just what photographers do!
Macro shot of Insects?
Insects make great subjects when you are shooting macro photography!
The trick is to sneak up very quietly on your subject. Spiders are pretty skittish. But, when you do capture a close-up of them, you can see so many details that you would otherwise miss.
This little cross spider, whom we named Stephanie, hung around on our deck for most of the summer. She wove a new web during the night. Each morning, I would go out to check on her and see if she had caught anything. By the time the sun was fully up, she would retreat to a covered space to wait out the day, safe from birds, so I had to be up early to capture a photo of her.
I took this shot with my 24-105 zoom telephoto, zoomed in to 105mm. Since I wasn’t extremely close to her, I could use an f/stop of f/4 and still capture a good depth of field.
Should everything always be in focus?
It’s hard to get a three-dimensional subject in focus when shooting macro photography. You’ll probably have to choose the part of the subject that matters and focus on it. Then you’ll have to accept that the rest will be blurry.
In this case, I focused on the green part of the flower. I love what the camera did with the rest of the flower. I think it’s very dreamy looking.
Now it’s your turn
Look around and find something that you’d like to see in detail. Then, grab your camera and play around with it! This is fun photography! Some people even set up scenes using Lego characters!
If you want some more inspiration, you can check out the photos in this article.
If you fall in love with some of your creations, why not print them? You can read about printing in this post.
Do you love shooting macro photography? Share your favorite subjects in the comments!