EOS photographer Braden Wong offers some effective tips for beginners on how to start shooting micro subjects and make them look awesome.
Macro photography captures the finest details of tiny subjects like insects, water droplets and pollen from an extremely close distance. What amazes me most about this genre is discovering the vibrant micro world of minute details, which normally escape our naked eye. Even better, macro photography can easily be practised in the garden or even at home.
EOS 6D | F/11 | ISO 100 | 15s
Here are some tips for the journey to producing impressive macro photos:
Use Macro Lenses
Most zoom lenses boast about the macro settings in them. However, only true macro lenses have the capability to produce images with a reproduction ratio (ratio of subject size on sensor to actual subject size) of at least 1:1. Therefore, it is wiser to invest in a high quality lens to capture these tiny details.
The Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM is one of the top macro lenses that allows a comfortable subject-to-lens distance so that you won’t end up scaring away the subject you are shooting due to proximity.
EOS 6D | F/5 | ISO 200 | 1/80s
Stop looking through the optical viewfinder with autofocus settings to focus or compose your images. Instead, use the LCD screen to compose and manually focus on the details of your subject. Using the LCD screen makes it possible to activate the 5x digital zoom and 10x digital zoom to focus on the fine details of the subject, thus making your images sharper.
EOS 6D | F/11 | ISO 100 | 1.3s
Depth of field
Whenever you observe the macro images of great photographers, you would often notice that the background or even part of the subject is blurred. This is because for macro photography, you want the viewer to focus on the details of the subject and not have their eyes straying from the focus of the image.
Thus it is important to choose a large aperture (small f-stop) with a shallow depth of field. If the aperture is too large, you may face problems with focusing as the depth of field becomes too small. Typically, an aperture of f/5.6 to f/13 would be optimal for most subjects.
EOS 6D | F/11 | ISO 100 | 10s
It is vital to look closely when we are looking for tiny subjects to shoot as subjects like insects can be merely 1-3 cm in size. Try not to disturb it or move its environment too much as you might frighten it off. The best time to capture these tiny creatures is during the golden hour as they are still resting and moving slowly.
EOS 6D | F/2.8 | ISO 100 | 1/20s
Lighting for macro photography is very much a personal preference. For me, I prefer natural light to lighting the subject artificially. Artificial lighting only comes into play when I want to create highlights and shadows to imbue the subject with more depth and texture.
EOS 6D | F/8 | ISO 100 | 4s
Tripods, monopods or some sort of stable stand is a MUST. Macro photography deals with subjects up close. Without some sort of support, even your breathing will amplify the camera shake and contribute to the image blur. If you absolutely cannot use a tripod, try to shoot the subject in a prone position. Use rocks, wooden planks, or any stable object to support your camera so that you can shoot hands-free.
EOS 6D | F/8 | ISO 100 | 3.2s
Macro photography is not just about the usual insects, droplets of water or flowers shots. Be creative. Macro photography can be fun when you shoot the insides of fruits, veins of vegetables, or even details of an art piece you created. Remember, shooting macro means paying attention to the fine details of your subject.
EOS 6D | F/11 | ISO 100 | 8s
Most macro photographers are often out in the field. Do bear in mind not to put on any insect repellent or perfume, as these will definitely repel your subjects. Prepare to sweat. Bring water along. Wear long tactical clothing and enjoy your macro shoot!