Friday, September 23, 2016



This is a subject that I love because macro photography, or in the Nikon world, micro photography, brings the things we see that are unique and beautiful up close to us.  You see things from such a different perspective, that it truly becomes a piece of art to do macro photography. 
However, it does take some special equipment to do macro photography, and it does take some special understanding of what happens when you take close-ups.   So, with all that in mind, let me introduce this article by: 
from PictureCorrect
to give us all the details.  I was looking for the best article to explain macro photography, and she appeared to have the best.  So, thanks to Jennifer for the use of this article:

With so many advancements in camera technology, there are more and more options and possibilities for the macro photographer. From expensive lenses to fancy equipment to help maximize depth of field, macro photography is made easier every day. That being said, it is still an art form. One that requires a creative eye, a willingness to experiment, dedication, and practice, especially if you can’t afford the fancy equipment. So what does the amateur macro photographer do? Professional landscape photographer Tim Cooper explains macro photography and provides some useful tips to get started:

A close up filter is basically a magnifying glass for your lens.
  • They’re inexpensive and light.
  • Your images will not be of the highest quality because you’re putting a very thick piece of glass in front of your lens, causing image degradation at the edges.
  • As long as you focus correctly, the center part of the image will be quite sharp, but the outside won’t be.
  • The greater magnification you want means you have to add more filters, stacking glass over glass, further diminishing the picture quality
    Extension tubes basically create a barrel to increase magnification.
  • They’re lightweight, come in a variety of sizes, and can be used with a variety of lenses.
  • Extension tubes are a little more expensive than closeup filters.
  • You get better focusing, but they are more time consuming to use.
  • They do not degrade the quality of the image through glass in front of the lens because the tubes are hollow.
  • There’s a lot of trial and error involved when you first start using these because you constantly have to move in and out and adjust/change/add more tubes to get the perfect focus.
  • Another downside is that when using the tubes, let’s say with a normal 50mm lens, since the lens is not manufactured for macro work, you get a slight curvature meaning you won’t get edge to edge sharpness.

    A macro lens is the best choice if you are taking a lot of macro shots.
  • These will help you produce the best quality, but they’re more expensive.
  • Macro lenses are the most convenient.
  • The lens is manufactured to give you that flat field, providing edge to edge sharpness.


    There are two things to consider when choosing a macro lens: Budget and Working Distance/Angle of View:

    Working Distance

    Working distance is the distance from the lens to the subject. There is typically no quality difference between shorter or longer macro lenses, but choosing the right one does depend on what you’re shooting.
    With a 50mm macro lens, you have to be very close to your subject to fill the frame. But, the 50mm macro lens has a wider angle of view, so you’ll be picking up things in the background that you may not want. If you switch to a 200mm macro, you will need to move back, away from the subject, giving you a much narrower field of view and including less background.

    A 200mm macro lens provides a narrower field of view.

    The trick to macro is the background’s appearance. How does the background play with the foreground?

    A longer lens includes less background, this means it’s easier to control it. With a 50mm macro lens, you have a wider filed of view, more background so you have to move a lot more to change what’s in the background. With a 200mm, a subtle change in movement drastically changes what the camera sees in the background.

    Subtle changes create different backgrounds

    Moving just a little bit to the right completely changes the background without altering the look of the primary subject.


    Cooper hates math. As do I. As do many of you, I’m sure. But, there is some sense in magnification ratios. Cooper explains them in a way that is easy to understand:

    Magnification Ratio: the ratio of the real size of the object on the sensor to the real size of the object in real life.

    1:1 Ratio — means it is exactly the same size.
    1:2 Ratio — the image on the sensor is half the size of the real thing.

    The image in the filmstrip is half the size as the real flower, meaning it has a 1:2 magnification ratio.

    NOTE:  When I worked in a camera store, and I tried to explain lens ratio to customers, I would explain it this way:   a 1:1 ratio photo would be like this:  a flower, the size of a quarter would fill the entire image of your camera frame.  If you had a lens with a ratio of 1:2, you would not be able to get as close and you would only be able to get 2 flowers in the same camera frame to fill it.
    ---- Lanny Cottrell, editor

    It’s important to know about magnification ratios when choosing a lens and deciding what method of closer focus you want to go with.

    • Subject Motion (a bee flying) — to freeze subject motion, you need a fast shutter speed.

  • Camera Motion (you shaking the camera) — to eliminate camera shake, you need a tripod.
  • You’ll want to use a tripod because not only are you magnifying your subject, but also any little bit of movement that goes with it.  


    Depth of field is controlled by the following:
    • Distance to Subject — the closer you are to your subject, the less DOF you have.
    • Focal Length — a wide angle lens gives you a lot of DOF; a telephoto lens gives you very little DOF.
    • Aperture — a wide aperture gives you very little DOF; a small aperture gives you very deep DOF.
    • Focal Plane — when your camera back is at an angle and you focus at a certain point, the plane of focus will be at the same parallel angle as the rear of your camera.
    Any small change in focal plane can degrade image sharpness.

    While all of the above factors affect depth of field in both regular and macro photography, focal plane is more important in macro. It doesn’t affect the image too much when photographing normally, but in macro, because the depth of field is so narrow to begin with, any small change in the focal plane will really make a difference.


    Your Tripod is Your Friend!

    A tripod will help you maximize DOF and eliminate camera shake. But, there’s no point in a tripod if you’re just going to push the shutter button and move the camera anyway, so you want to use the self timer or a cable release.

    Proper Focusing

    If you focus on one plane at f/2.8, only that plane will be sharp. But, as you start to stop down, the DOF will occur behind the subject and only a little bit before it. Cooper says you should focus 1/3 of the way into the frame, then stop down to get your entire subject sharp.

    Focus Stacking
    Take several shots with each shot focusing at a different distance. Then take all those shots and merge them in post production using software like Photoshop or Helicon Focus.

    If you don’t always want everything to be as sharp as possible, that’s okay too. A minimum depth of field can be fun and a refreshing change. Plus, you have the freedom to hand hold the camera while shooting and be more creative with your focusing.

    You don’t always have to shoot exactly what the subject is — photograph your interpretation of it, how you were feeling at that moment.

    “Move beyond what the subject is and just choose parts that you like and display it in any manner that you wish.”

    Being creative with minimum depth of field.


    Don’t place your subject in the middle.
  • Try shooting vertical and horizontal.
  • Watch your corners and edges for things that may pop up in the image.
  • Add a point of interest to your patterns and textures.
  • Backgrounds and foregrounds should enhance your subject.


    Don’t be afraid to experiment with different focusing points.
  • Try using umbrellas or reflectors to control the light by diffusing it or reflecting it.
  • Use an off-camera flash or invest in a ring flash to play with lighting.
  • Use a grid to focus the beam of light.
  • Try a rail focuser to control the distance to your subject.
  • Think outside the box and create your own background.
  • And, as with any type of photography, always experiment!

    Once you learn all these steps to macro photography, you will learn to love this field of photography.  Experiment with taking macro photos, try different angles, get as close as you can, and you will be amazed at what the closeup world looks like. It is a whole new world there.  
    Lanny Cottrell

    Entertainment & learning for the photographer

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