macro photography tips

Macro photography of a flower

These are the most common macro photography tips that will give you a starting point to explore taking great close up photos.

use a tripod

Usually macro photography involves long exposures so you need the camera to be completely still to prevent getting a blurry photo.

When I photographed this Hibiscus flower, I used a tripod but the biggest challenge was waiting for a still moment when the wind wasn't blowing.

Some close-up photography can be very abstract in nature because of the extremely shallow depth of field.

This close up photograph was shot at f/11 which is a pretty small aperture.

Despite this, you can see that surrounding petals are out of focus and isolate the flower's central tube called the stigma.

Macro photograph of an insect

I could not use a tripod when I photographed the butterflies and various other flying insects that were hopping form flower to flower on our butterfly bush.

I jacked up the ISO to 1600 so that I could get a high shutter speed and a small aperture while shooting in direct bright sunlight. This is not my favorite lighting, but it was the only way to get motion and focus sharpness with these very busy insects.

All of these macro photos were taken with a 31 mm OPTEKA extension tube which gave me a focusing distance of only a few inches from my rapidly moving subjects.

Macro photography tips about using two different f-stops to dramatically change the depth of field

control your depth of field

These two close up photos of this purple flowering grass are great examples of how your choice of aperture effects depth of field.

I place a large piece of white foam core to block the direct sunlight and create a soft morning light effect.

Notice how the close up photo shot at an aperture of f/7 has a less distracting background than the f/22 shot.

One of the other tips for taking digital photography that I've shared in many photography articles is to try several variations of the same photo. This is a good macro photography tip too.

Try using a large aperture for shallow depth of field first. Then take the same photo using a small aperture for a larger range of things in focus in your image.

Remember this change in f-stop will require a change in shutter speed or ISO setting to get the same exposure. For more on that topic, visit Photo Exposure.

macro photography lighting

Photography is really "painting with light" and just like portrait photography, lighting can make or break your macro photograph.

I've explored some other web sites discussing macro photography lighting tips and some of it is really bad. It is definitely a subjective topic, but usually blasting your subject directly with a harsh direct electronic flash is not an attractive way to light your photo.

Improving your macro photography lighting technique is a life-long process. Explore the other articles with indoor and natural macro photography lighting tips to get some more ideas.

Macro Photography Ideas. Looking for some inspiration on what to photograph, read this.

Macro Photography Planning. A photography tip I learned in college over 25 years ago is still great to use today with digital photography.

macro photography tips - update

Update: Here are 2 more macro photography tips that I wanted to add along with these two new photographs. Try several different crops when doing your photo editing. In the flower photo below the original un-cropped version had a very dark background.

While it did give great separation, I felt it was a distraction. I cropped it tighter and simplified the photograph to make it more elegant.

Close-up photography tips include using a good basic compostion

Update #2: Try going abstract. Abstract Macro Photography is a fun segment to explore. Although the photo below is identifiable as a flower, it has a surreal kind of feel to it because of the wide-angle lens used and the resulting spatial distortion.

Another tip - trip using spatical distortions with your close-up photography

There is another interesting macro photography technique using electronic flash for lighting that is pretty easy to set up and can be a lot of fun to play around with. This detailed video gives tips on macro photography of water drops

If the video above doesn't work, let me know at and I'll fix it. Thanks!

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Happy Shooting!
Photo TipMan

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