Macro Photography Tips & Tricks (+ a Cheat Sheet!)

macro flower photo
Photo by HeinzDS

Macro photography is an exciting way to change up your photo routine.

It explores the world of the small. Insects, flower petals, water droplets, fruits and more. Anything that is up close and personal.

This vantage point opens up a new and interesting perspective on photography. Bringing the little things in life into full (magnified) focus. When entering
the world of macro photography, you’ll notice details that are often missed by the naked eye.

The first time you snap a macro lens onto your camera is one of exploration, experimentation, and discovery.

Here are a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of your close-up shots…

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1. Making Macro Photography Affordable.

Diving into the world of macro photography doesn’t have to be pricey. In fact, if you already own a 50mm prime lens, you can start shooting macro right away,
by reversing the lens. You can also use lenses with a shorter focal length. Such as 24mm or 28mm.

You simply turn the lens around so that the rear element points outwards, and the front element faces the body of the camera.

All you need is what’s called a reversing ring. Which allows you to mount a lens onto your camera backwards.

It might seem a little strange at first, but it works! By reversing the lens, the 50mm lens will magnify what it sees, giving near life-size (1:1) magnification.

But keep in mind that you do lose some control over the lens when using this technique. So you’ll need to shoot everything in manual.

2. Grab a reflector or flash.

Macro photography requires a lot of light to bring those small objects into sharp focus. So you’ll need something to help add additional light and eliminate shadows.

A reflector can sometimes work but for best results you’re going to want to use an external flash with some sort of diffuser to soften the light. The pop-up flash on your DSLR can also work quite well.

3. Bring a spray bottle.

Water can add an interesting dynamic to your macro photos. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to catch blades of grass and flowers with the perfect morning dew. No
matter how early you get up.

Fortunately, you can create a very similar effect by bringing a spray bottle. This allows you to create instant dew drops for spiderwebs, leaves, flowers, and anything else you choose to photograph.

This makes for rich, vibrant photos that capture the feeling of that fresh morning dew.

4. Beautiful bokeh.

Those beautifully blurred backgrounds help bring your subject into sharp focus.

To get the best effect, use a nice, wide aperture. Set your lens aperture to its lowest f/stop value. Often referred to as “maximum aperture”. This creates a shallow depth of field.

Move in close to your subject to separate the foreground from the background and fire off a few shots to see which effects you like best.

You can also use your flash to darken out the background. Which often gives your macro shots a much more appealing bokeh effect.

5. Try new angles.

There are no rules when it comes to macro photography. Sure, there are some helpful guidelines. But I find that you capture some of your best shots when you simply have fun and experiment with different angles, lighting, and exposure.

When first starting out with macro photography, you’re likely to shoot objects from a side angle. This can create excellent results, but I’m betting that pretty soon you’ll want to experiment with new angles and effects. Shoot slightly above or below. Underneath. Over the top. Shoot against different backgrounds. Always look for the hidden photo opportunity.

The great thing about digital photography is you can take as many shots as you want and there’s no extra cost. Quite different from the days of film photography when
every shot needed to be carefully planned in order to avoid the extra cost of unnecessary film.

But in this day and age of the DSLR and mirrorless camera, you can take thousands of shots for free. We often forget just how lucky we are. And while it is important
to plan out your shots. I also recommend having fun and experimenting as much as possible. Because that’s where you’ll find some of your best photos. Not from following rigid rules. But getting out there and having fun.

Want to save this article? Download this post (and the cheat sheet!) as a PDF.

Macro Photography Cheat Sheet

Want to save this article? Download this post (and the cheat sheet!) as a PDF.

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