Art or craft?
Macro photography opens up fascinating insights into an apparently strange world. Here, entirely everyday things are just looked at somewhat more closely. Read here how you can successfully take such extraordinary shots and what you need to pay attention to in macro photography.
Macros = Big
The range of macro photography is somewhat vaguely summarised in a standard (DIN 19040). In this, everything in a scale range from 1:10 to 10:1 counts as a close-up or macro shot. Most macro photographers work with a scale of 1:1, so the object is captured on the film or the sensor of the digital camera at exactly the size that it is in reality. If, on the other hand, the world is shown magnified, it is already called microphotography.
Many lenses of modern digital cameras now have a special macro function. It is more ideal, of course, to have a special macro lens. An alternative is to use a close-up ring or – very traditional – an extension bellows. Each is installed between camera and lenses in order to extend the distance between the two. Another cheap alternative is reverse mounting. With a suitable adapter, also known as a reversing ring, you can simply put your lenses on back to front.
The Art and the Craft
The art of macro photography lies in the detail. A little patience is just as much to be recommended as being more daring when experimenting. Here you should pay particular attention to the perspective. A beetle seen from above is rather boring. It is better to be at eye-level with the animals. After all, it is the eyes that are first noticed by the observers of your pictures. You should therefore make the photographs as sharp as possible. Playing with focus depth can also produce good results in macro photography, although, of course, there is less room for manoeuvre here.
The Right Exposure Time
When taking photos of nature, and especially animals, one should not choose too long an exposure time, because most insects move and even the wind is a negative influence. For this, you can for example also use the sport mode on your compact camera. If possible, use a small tripod and the mirror lockup. With live view on the monitor of your digital camera, you can zoom into the picture to focus precisely. Depending on the equipment, it is best not to rely on exposure metering in the macro range, but instead to be slightly more generous with the exposure time.
Up Close – But Carefully
It is also a good idea to wear sturdy, weatherproof clothing when out and about in nature, in order to get close to the environment without suffering the rather painful effects of stinging nettles. Many insects are shy. Here it is best to resort to a telephoto lens with a focal length of 100 millimetres or more, so that the little animals do not flee before you have taken your pictures. The lighting effect of a flash can be useful or artistic under certain circumstances. But remember that not all living creatures can stand strong flash light and some may either flee or even be injured.
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