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Lenses and Macro Photography

Macro photography has become increasingly popular; so much so that most consumer digital cameras are equipped with a setting intended for such a purpose, and/or they arrive with built-in zoom lenses capable of focusing on the most minuscule or tiny detail of a subject

Camera lens

Camera lens

Macro photography has become increasingly popular; so much so that most consumer digital cameras are equipped with a setting intended for such a purpose, and/or they arrive with built-in zoom lenses capable of focusing on the most minuscule or tiny detail of a subject.

The most common subjects for macro photography are flowers, insects and natural patterns in wood, stone, sand or even moss, but some photographers may take commercial images of jewelry, or other subjects as well. Macro photography is basically the capturing of clear details of very small or even microscopic subjects, and this requires special lenses.

A macro lens has a focal length that usually runs 50mm to 200mm, and is capable of continuously focusing on a subject from a one to one setting, and onward. This means that a long distance shot of the moon will have the same clarity and detail as the wings of a dragonfly perched on a flower.

In order to select the best macro lens it is important to consider the type of photographs that are planned. For example, focal length on a lens allows for a variety of possible images and a macro photographer hoping to capture images of hummingbirds, who are easily scared away, may want a longer focal length, such as the 200mm lens, while the photographer who wants to get a close up of a human eye would be able to use the 50mm to great effect.

There is a great deal more to good macro photography than simply having a lens and camera capable of focusing in and clearly recording the image, however. The lighting is also critical to a decent magnified shot. For example, most “on board” and even “shoe” mounted flash bulbs are not properly placed to light a macro subject.

Ensuring that a subject is properly lit for macro photography may take some work and a bit of creative thinking. For example, if photographing flowers in a macro format, it may be a good idea to have them “backlit”, meaning with the sun or other light source flooding the background of the image or shining directly through the flower itself.

Alternately, the photographer could use a handheld or trigger operated flash to flood the entire space with adequate lighting. They can also “bounce” their flash, use alternate lighting sources, or even purchase a special “macro flash” unit especially designed to meet the needs of a macro subject.

In addition to lighting considerations, focus on a macro subject may be disrupted when a shot is hand-held, and many macro photographers choose to employ a tripod for their outdoor and studio work as well. Because the subject of a macro photograph is so deeply focused, simply depressing the shutter can ruin the photograph, and in addition to tripods, many photographers will also use a cable trigger for their macro photography. Please leave your comments below – it does help us make this a better site if we can give you what you’re looking for and perhaps you have something to add to this article!

Contribution by Amy Renfrey