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The Magic World Of Macro

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  • Location: The Fens. 25 asl
  • Location: The Fens. 25 asl

    Hi just thought I would post up a few basics for newcomers to macro photography. I will not cover everything involved in macro photography, especially some of the more technical areas, as I just want to cover the essentials!

    Right here goes.....

    Equipment basics.

    Compact digital cameras;

    Any modern day compact digital camera comes with a macro setting as standard, these generally are superb. The only thing I would say about using these cameras for macro photography (for me) is its hard to obtain a pin sharp image using the LCD screen while focusing, I much prefer to use a viewfinder. That aside these little compacts can out perform a DSLR on occasion in getting a good macro image.


    I use a DSLR for my photography and a dedicated 100mm macro lens, although I started off taking macro shots with a cheap kit lens (18-55mm) as you see from this shot, even using a kit lens I did not get such bad results My first ever macro shot.........1605453023_e9be093e28_o.jpg


    In my macro photography I do not use a tripod as I enjoy getting down and dirty to get my shots (sounds naughty!) also I find that by the time I have fiddled getting the tripod set up whatever insect I am after has long since buggered off because I have taken to long or because I have scared them off setting it up! However its advisable to use one if shooting non-moving objects, as shooting macro shots greatly exaggerates camera shake.


    Getting the settings right in macro photography can make the difference from getting an image or not. Most compact digital cameras have a dedicated macro setting, as I have no real hands on experience with these cameras I would suggest that you use these in camera settings when photographing a macro subject.

    DSLR cameras also have a dedicated macro setting which, I imagine would be more then adequate in obtaining a decent macro photograph. However I have never used this function, how I learnt to use my DSLR was to put it into manual and keep it there (believe me you learn) Now I am too stubborn to change, and I believe that using manual settings give you more flexibility in the shots you can take!


    ISO (formally ASA in old cameras) In a nut shell ISO denotes how sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive the image sensor and therefore the possibility to take pictures in low-light situations. It also has a big effect on image quality and shutter speed, using an ISO of 100 or less means you get the highest quality image capture you can (less noise) but at this setting you will need lots of good light as your shutter speed will be slower then taking the same shot with an ISO of say 400. I use an ISO of 100 normally, in more high end DSLR's the high ISO quality has improved a great deal so this is something to bear in mind.

    A Shot taken with an ISO of 250........2558436091_9454c3fe7d_b.jpg

    Depth of field;

    This is a major factor in macro photography. If you use an aperture of f2.8 which is a very wide aperture meaning the hole that light can pass through is large, it gives a narrow depth of field with only a small area of the image in focus. Using a wide aperture can be very effective with certain shots when you only want to focus on a small area of the subject, and it will also increase shutter speeds. Using a small aperture of say f22 has a lot more of the subject in focus but will require a longer shutter speed, using a high ISO if shooting at f10 or above is a handy rule to remember.

    DSLR users - If your digital SLR has a DOF preview button, use it. Located near the lens barrel, it temporarily stops down the lens to the current setting, allowing you to preview what will and what won't be in focus in the resulting image.

    Here is an image with a wide aperture, notice only the head and legs are in focus........2889393373_deda543467_b.jpg

    Shutter speeds;

    I don't have a great deal to say about shutter speeds except keep it fast by using good light any shutter speed below 1/100 is liable to shake making you resulting image blurred, I like to keep my shutter speed around 1/250 for nice sharp shots! If not enough light is on your subject remember you can raise the ISO or make the aperture smaller or both to raise shutter speeds.

    Right thats enough for now! the above is based on how I photograph macro subjects, so please don't shout if some of my techniques are not the right way of doing it!

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  • Location: The Fens. 25 asl
  • Location: The Fens. 25 asl

    Just thought I would add a macro picture I took today with the settings I used to take the shot.

    I took the shot handheld, I normally like the shutter speed to be at least 1/150, but thought I would give it a go and adjust if needs be. As luck would have it the shot came out not too bad :unknw:


    Make: Canon

    Model: Canon EOS 40D

    Shutter Speed: 1/80 second

    F Number: F/8.0

    Focal Length: 100 mm

    ISO Speed: 320

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  • Location: Louth, Lincolnshire
  • Weather Preferences: Misty Autumn days and foggy nights
  • Location: Louth, Lincolnshire

    Good post slinky. I'd add a couple of things I think about Macro photography

    1) Lighting - obviously if you're shooting animals, flash photography in macro environments is very difficult because of the disturbance factor, however if you're photographing objects, I like to use flash wherever possible - why go to the trouble of fixing your apeture to get the depth of field right when the back or fringes of the object are too dark to discern. Try the rear curtain flash setting on your flash to light the fringes of the image without burning out the main elements. Obviously a reflector is nice here.

    2) Bokeh. This is the pleasant background blur which stands your subject out against the clutter behind it - it's all about getting the apeture right and it's more difficult to do with a compact camera than a DSLR (with a DSLR with a dedicated macro lens, it should be a piece of cake) - if you can't seem to get it right, I'd try using a reflector or a background of some sort.

    Nice shots, Slinky, BTW.

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