Easy Macro Photography Tutorial For Every Photographer
Macro photography is honestly one of the most fun genres of photography you can get into. The patience you need to see everyday objects beyond what is presented on the surface results to many interesting and unique images.
Unlike many other forms of photography, macro photography skills are very flexible and can be achieved by anyone with the right patience and creative perseverance. For example, you don’t need elaborate lighting, a stunning model, a well thought out setup and styling crew, nor the need to wake up in brief golden hours to get amazing shots.
In macro photography, practically every item that has unique shapes, color, texture, and patterns will work well as a subject. The fact that you’re shooting at huge magnification mean that the subjects you ultimately choose are rather small, something that fits in the palm of your hand, in fact.
From insects to seeds and crystals, the world is yours to explore.
Macro Photography Tutorial by Bryan Peterson
You’ve probably read at least a couple of books written by Bryan Peterson, he’s a great photographer, but also a great instructor. In this video, you’ll see how he uses natural light and some common household items to shape light and create a stunning still-life macro photo with ease.
Macro photography is hardware dependent, but the fortunate aspect of macro photography is that the cost of equipment is comparatively low. Here’s a basic list of macro photography equipment that you should consider to get started.
Reverse Ring Adapter
A reverse ring adapter is simple a metal adapter with a (usually 52 or 58mm) filter thread on one end, and your camera’s lens mount type on another.
Just mount the lens filter-side to the camera and shoot.
There are limitations in this technique such as not having auto-focus and ability to change aperture settings on modern lenses, but there are way to go around it, you can read it on our reverse ring and extension tubes tutorial.
Extension tubes are hollow metal tubes that go in between your normal lens and the camera. By extending the distance between the rear lens element and the film/sensor plane, the image is magnified. The greater the distance, the larger the magnification.
Like reverse rings, cheap extension tubes doesn’t have electronic contacts that control auto-focus and aperture settings, so again, read reverse ring and extension tubes tutorial for more info.
True Macro Lens
A true macro lens offers a 1:2 or 1:1 magnification. These lenses are almost always prime lenses ranging from 50mm to 180mm f/2.8. These lenses work just like any other prime lens but allows very close and accurate focusing.
Macro Attachment Lenses
Lastly, macro attachment lenses are like threaded filters or clip-on filters to mount in front of your normal lens. You can turn your lens into a macro lens while maintaining all of your lens’ ability to focus, meter, and adjust aperture.
The most popular macro lens attachment by far are the Raynox macro lenses. They’re stellar in quality and can be used on any camera.
A tripod is essential as you’ll be forced to shoot at really small apertures like f/16 or f/22, and since you need maximum detail rendering, you’ll be shooting at low ISO settings as well, necessitating a long shutter speed if you’re not using external powered flash or not under the full sunlight.
On top of that the depth-of-field is really thin for macro photography, so if you’ve carefully arranged your subject and nailed the focus, which is only a millimeter or two, any slight shift in your camera’s position will turn all your hard work to dust, you’ll have to redo everything again.
Get a tripod and save yourself the headache.
A macro focusing rail attaches to your tripod most of the time, it allows you to move the camera forward and backward in really small and accurate increments. While not really necessary, it’s an investment that all serious macro and still-life shooters should consider.
External Light and Modifier
Having external light means you won’t be at the mercy of the sun’s ability to provide illumination. You can control the intensity, distance, shape, size etc. not to mention the ability to shoot at night and indoors!
With the subject being small, a normal hotshoe flash is often enough for the job, and small diffusing panels, reflectors, and light modifiers will be sufficient.
Need Help? This Will Fast-Track Your Macro Experience
Andrew Gibson’s Up Close from Craft and Vision is the best $5 you’ll ever spend for a macro resource.
88-spreads of close-up photography primer that fits all brands and sensor type of cameras, as long as your camera can shoot macro, ALL of the tips in his book are easy to digest and instantly applicable.
Find out more about Up Close here.
Go ahead, try something out this week, go grab your flash gun or just take it outside, give macro a shot and you’ll learn so much about patience and intentional effort in composition, focus selection, as well as lighting.