Tips for improving your macro photography:
Exploring the world of miniature objects with a macro lens is a special and exciting area of photography, and once you start, you will quickly become addicted. The world of macro photography holds many delights and is an area that cannot be appreciated with the human eye.
Macro photography is the name given to close-up photography, and is best explained as images that are taken at reproduction ratios of life-size and above. Ratios of between 1:7 and 1:1 fall into the macro photography category.
Understanding Ratios: This is a term used to express the magnification of a macro lens or other macro equipment that relates the real life-size object to the reproduction size on a slide or negative. If you shoot an object that is 3cm in length and it measures 1.5cm on a 35mm slide or negative - the ratio is 1:2. When both are equal length the ratio is 1:1
Choosing the right lens is the most important factor with macro photography. While a telephoto lens may be acceptable with some types of close-up photography, the macro lens is invaluable to get really close and really accurate focusing.
There is an endless range of subjects that fall under the range of macro photography. The most common subject for macro photography is the natural world - all types of flowers, plants, and insects. For the more creative photographer, macro photography is used in abstract imagery.
With many forms of macro photography, especially with insects, a lens with a long focal lens - minimum 200 mm is required for some nature subjects. You need to keep a working distance from the subject to get a successful image - you don’t want to frighten your subject away.
When shooting close-ups you are limited with depth-of-field - to get an attractive image you must focus on the most important part of the subject. This will be achieved easier if you place your camera on a tripod or monopod.
By using your tripod you will reduce the risk of camera shake. Subject movement is also an important factor to consider. Macro photography magnifies the subject, leaving more room for blur. A strobe unit can be used to freeze movement - even on the brightest of days you should consider using your strobe unit. Try bouncing light from your strobe unit off a reflector. This will give your image a softer illumination.
Many amateur photographers stay away from macro photography because they feel that their technical ability is too inept - your personal ability should not turn you away from this exciting part of photography - macro photography is like all types of photography - practice makes perfect.
* Though you can achieve similar effects using a non-D SLR camera also, they have inbuilt feature/option for macro photography. Certain models have the manual focus option which comes handy when focussing on very tiny objects with background very far away, in such cases the camera focusses on the background rather than the object. This is where the manual focus mode comes in handy.
These are some pics I clicked using my Nikon P80, they can be further refined during post-processing.
Some important points:
DOF:- Super macro means super importance to DOF, this means u will need to either make really tough decision on where to focus. The fact that most of these setups reduce total light will make it more difficult to working at higher f-stops. One method would be to take multiple images with varying areas in focus and combine them to get the desired image.
Lighting:- Most of the above setups will reduce total light available thus, artificial lighting is very important in super macro photography. Use external flashes, it will be convenient to use a ring flash. If there is more light to work with the image can be captured much better. This means that investing in a good lighting device will be worth every penny.
Stability:- The high amounts of magnification means that you will need very high stability, this means you will need a very steady tripod for one. The setup is very sensitive due to the high magnification so you will benefit from using a remote release. Another feature you will benefit from would be live view to increase stability.
Subject:- Live insects will not make good subject for super macro simply because they keep moving. Good subjects would be dead insects and other such subjects that will not move. Flowers and their interiors make very interesting subjects too. Small stone , twigs etc also have a lot of story to tell. Remember that the possibilities in the miniature world is limitless there are so many things that we can capture, but as mention before lighting is very important.
Perspective:- As in any type of photography perspective is important in super macros also. The angle the framing everything counts. When working at high magnification it can be a very precise maneuver that sets it right or makes it all wrong.
The possibilities are limitless so keep in mind these tips and start experimenting.