Macro photography emphasizes minute detail, texture and pattern, transforming the ordinary into extraordinary. The term macro applies to images that increase the size of an object from about a half-life size reproduction to five times life-size, or in other words a ratio of 1:1 to 5:1.
If you’re just getting into macro photography, you’ve probably discovered the lenses involved can be quite an investment. Reversal rings are a cheap alternative, enabling you to put the lens on your camera backwards, converting it into a budget macro lens. Unlike close-up filters, reversal rings do not degrade image quality and the loss of light is not as severe as with the use of extension tubes.
When you magnify a subject you also magnify the camera shake, so a tripod is an essential tool when shooting macro photography. To help reach those low lying, hard to reach subject matters try a reversible head stern tripod which allows the camera to hang facing down, under the tripod. Other flexible tripods feature legs that completely extend horizontally, to get down to the detail. Using a cable release alongside a mirror lock (which makes the mirror flip up before you release the shutter) will also minimise camera shake.
Controlling the focus at this range is highly important due to the high depth of field. The autofocus may not be reliable when shooting macro, so it’s best to switch to manual focus to ensure you get consistently sharp images.
The depth of field preview (DOF) button, usually located at the front of your DSLR beside the lens, can come in useful when shooting close-ups. The DOF button helps you determine what your image will look like before the image has been taken. With DSLR’s it may seem a little redundant as you can review images on the screen once their taken; however, if time is not on your side and you can only make that one shot, this little button can be incredible helpful.
To make sure all desired detail is in focus you should use an f-stop no wider than f/16. Be prepared to get up close and personal with your subject matter, in some cases the subject will almost be touching the lens, giving you little working distance to adjust the lighting. To counter this you’ll need to get your hands on some light rings and macro flash attachments to optimize the light.
Adjusting the angle of the light can also draw focus to details you want to emphasize, such as frontal lighting for deeper colour saturation or lighting from the side to highlight texture.
Spraying flowers with a little water can add more texture to botanic shots, so be sure to bring a little spray bottle along to embellish any potential floral frame!