Macro photography is the art of capturing small items and/or details in
digital format or on film, so that they can be viewed in an up-close
manner. The photo can be of something large, such as the detail
on a large flower, or it can be of something extremely small, such as
the intricacies of a feather.
Whether a macro photographer is taking a photograph of a detail of a
larger object, or whether he or she is photographing something incredibly
small to begin with, all macro photography has one thing in common —
it allows the viewer of the photograph to see something that would be
extremely difficult to view with the human eye. For example, every
time we pour a drink, we are able to see the liquid splash off the
ice. But macro photography allows that image to be frozen in time
and studied in more detail. The photograph will allow us to see
things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to see in real time, such as the
pattern the liquid makes over the ice, the shapes of the droplets as they
hang in the air, or the veins and fissures in the ice cubes themselves.
While two of the most common subjects for macro photographs are insects
and flowers, just about anything can be the subject of a macro
photograph. Anything with interesting, up-close texture and shape
makes a good candidate. The options for good macro photography are
all around you.
One thing about macro photography that is very different than traditional
photography is how close the photographer must come to his subject.
As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for the lens of the camera to
almost touch its subject. This can create issues with both focus
and depth of field.
That's because the closer you get to the subject you are photographing,
the more your depth of field drops off. The lower your depth of
field is, the more challenging it is to ensure that the entire subject of
your photograph is in focus. Rather than use the focusing ring on
the camera, macro photographers often manipulate focus by moving closer
to, or farther away from, the subject they are photographing.
Because of the close distance between the camera and the subject, the
photographer also loses a significant amount of light. The remedy
to this challenge is to use longer shutter times, as well as artificial
light, reflectors, and diffusers. As a general rule of thumb, it's
easier to control the outcome of a macro photograph when it's done at a
studio, where light can be completely controlled.
What kind of equipment do you need to be a macro photographer?
While you can certainly spend lots of money buying special accessories to
hone your craft, all you really need to get started with macro
photography is a digital camera with a macro mode. A digital single
lens reflex body (dSLR) will give you even more options when it comes to
taking macro photographs. If your initial goal is to take
photographs at half life-size (at a ratio of 1:2), you'll have all the
equipment you need. As you become more involved with macro
photography and want to increase magnification, you'll need additional
For more information, tutorials, courses, and books about macro
photography, check out these web page links:
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Macro Photography Equipment and Techniques Guide