Ten ways to improve your macro photography
Award-winning nature photographer and regular PhotoPlus contributor David Maitland shares his tips for using macro lenses to capture small creatures.
The depth of field at macro lens settings is shallow, even at f/22. Using your lens wide open gives out-of-focus highlights but very shallow focus, while at f/22 the image quality may degrade due to lens diffraction – use your lens at its best setting, usually f/5.6-f/11.
Camera shake is the biggest issue when using macro lenses due to their high levels of magnification. Steady your camera with a monopod instead of a tripod, which will give you more freedom to select the best picture-taking angle.
The eyes have it
Get down to your subject’s level to give your pictures greater impact – looking down on your subject usually makes for an awkward composition. The point of focus on your subject is crucial; if there’s a face, it’s usually best to focus on the eyes – these must be sharp.
Many Canon cameras have Live View and swivelling LCD review screens – use these in place of an angle finder to take awkward, but dramatic, shots from ground level.
Mix flash with daylight
Use fill-flash balanced with daylight to reduce contrast and shadows, or to provide a catch-light in the eyes. Get creative with your flash by taking it off-camera and positioning it around your subject, or even behind it for a contre-jour look.
Use the lowest ISO you can, as this will improve the quality of your digital files and sharpen up your images; increased noise tends to blur the finest details typical of a furry insect taken at high macro magnifications.
Work around the subject
Finding the best angle to take your picture from is crucial. Work around your subject taking pictures from all angles – you’ll quickly learn which viewpoints are best.
Auto or manual focus?
Switch off autofocus and manually focus your macro lens by moving your body back and forth.
This will prevent the camera hunting
for a focus point you don’t want!
Burst of three
Taking a burst of three shots in quick succession (use High-Speed Continuous Drive mode) will increase your chances of sharp results.
Watch your background
Pay as much attention to the background detail as to the subject, especially when you move around and change position – check that there are no distracting blotches, details or highlights in your field of view.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 at 3:01 pm and is filed under Wildlife. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a comment. Pinging is currently not allowed.