macro photography ideas
inspiration for great macro photos

Looking for some fresh macro photography ideas?  Read on, my friend.  This article will give you some inspiration and ideas for macro photography. Breeze through it and when you're done, you can go on to find  more ideas and how to information by reading some of the other macro photography articles.


location  location  location

Flowers and bugs come to mind when you think of the most common subjects to photograph up close.

What about something a little more unique? Think about locations when you're seeking inspiration for close-up subjects.

Yes, outside is great when the weather is right, but what about some ideas for macro photos when the weather sucks?

Visit a conservatory and you'll be overloaded with macro photography ideas.Photograph taken at
a nearby conservatory

1. your own home

You can find interesting subjects everywhere. It just takes a little practice.  You could start by going to a room in your house.  Even your living room will have a few interesting subjects. Just walk into a room and challenge yourself to find something unique. Try a few compositions with different angles.

TV remote controlClose-up of your television remote control

Look for patterns, shapes, or interesting lines on any object within a room. The key is to move in close and look at very small areas and objects. I got the idea for the close-up below as soon as I walked into my living room.

seashellsIn the living room. Photo of the base
of a lamp made up of a mason jar and seashells.


In the close-up of the Mason jar, I simply set the small table lamp down on a table that was close to a wide window in the front to my home. The soft light did a great job of bringing out the subtle colors and textures of the seashells inside the Mason jar.


2. unique locations for more macro photography ideas


The photo below was taken in the shower stall of our bathroom. When you put a question into your mind, it sometimes gives you an answer when you least expect it. The morning light did a great job of illuminating the tiny water droplets. I had to use a high ISO setting

So it is possible stay away from nature when searching for ideas on subject matter. Do you have any junk drawers or tool kits sitting around?  I challenged myself by looking for macro subject within each single room of my house.

I've limited myself to just the kitchen before, just my office and yes, just my bathroom-see the shower stall photo above.  It is a way to get your creative juices flowing.

picture frame padPhoto of bump-ons that go on the back of your picture frames.

This macro idea came from a shoe box full of framing supplies, located underneath my photography work table. This photo is a close-up of a"bump-on" which is one of those little plastic dome cushions that you place on the back of a picture frame to protect the wall.

The list of macro photography ideas is truly infinite. You just have to exercise your mental muscle and look around. Another possible way to get inspired is to consider getting a macro lens for your cell phone camera.

Perhaps a bit unusual, for sure, but you always have your cell phone with you and might come up with an interesting idea for your next macro photograph while you're on the go.

Add-on cell phone camera lenses are quite small, perhaps a bit of a gimmick, but definitely very affordable. Of course there is a downgrade in quality when you are using a cell phone to take photos, but the reality is everyone is doing it all the time and the photographs are getting better: Cell Phone Camera Lens.

Another great way to learn about a subject is to attend a workshop. Mike Moats is a dedicated macro photographer who travels the country and does workshops for photographers who don't have sophisticated macro photography equipment.  

Here is the link:  http://tinylanscapes.wordpress.com/workshops/

This article is intended to give you some great macro photography ideas. Any macro photo inspiration you pick up here can be carried over to other areas of your digital photography. Like learning a sport, the technical and tactical skills from one are carry over to another.  

The experience you get with finding or creating good lighting, and using good composition is helpful with other kinds of photography.


3. Your office

Offices contain lots of potential subjects for macro photography. Pens, pencils, paper clips, staplers, USB drives, and......you get the idea. 

German bible close-upMy grandfather's German bible

The close up photo of this antique German bible shows the characteristics of the aged paper and cover. I carried it outside to my porch late in the afternoon so the sun was diffused and coming in at an angle.

Objects in nature (insects and flowers) are by far the most popular subjects for photographers doing macro photography, and you shouldn't exclude them from the disucssion.


4. Your own backyard

How about some macro photography that isn't of bugs or flowers. There is a lot of potential for ideas for close-up photography that don't involve flowers or insects. Look for textures, patterns, and interesting lighting situations.

Photo of padlockPadlock on shed door.

I wanted to follow my own method for finding macro photography ideas. I walked out by back door one sunny morning and just started looking. Within 5 minutes I had photographed about 6 different subjects.

Close-up wood fenceClose-up of knot in wood fence

I have found that looking at photos from other photographers is a great way of getting ideas for creating photos with your own personal method or interpretation of the subject matter of your image.

door hingeHinge and rusty screws

The number of subjects is both plentiful and amazingly diverse, so ideas are limitless. I did include a few small nature photos from other photographers as samples of macro photo subjects in this article to give you a little variety from other photographers.

Most of the photos on this web site have been taken by me personally. I have, on occasion, used photos from other photographers as inspiration and for ideas to write additional articles.

Close-up of tulipsClose-up of tulips - Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net

You have many sources of royalty free and public domain photos at your disposal to use for inspiration. I occasionaly use the photos from one site : publicdomainpictures.net

Petr Kratochvi has thousands of photos there and I have contributed money to Petr for the use of his photography on this digital photo tips web site.

If you were photographing the wood fence, what would you do differently? Perhaps you would use a different lighting technique or take a different perspective. That can change the visual impact completely of any subject by altering your lighting, your perspective or your composition.


5. shoot macro photos of a characteristic

Another way to come up with creative macro photography ideas is to focus on one aspect or characteristic of a subject.

For instance, you could look for textures. These last two photos are all about texture. Seek inspiration for a photo by looking for just subjects with interesting texture.

pine cone texturePinecone

Mushroom textureMushrooms

The two examples are both from nature, but it's easy to use this concept for non-living things too.


abstract macro photography

You can have some nerdy fun by getting in real close to subjects that lose their identity. Photos like this don't appeal to the general population, but camera geeks like us can get enjoyment out of going abstract.

rock photographAbstract macro image of a rock in my backyard.

With the sun at a low angle, all of the little nooks and crannies are revealed in this photo of a rock that adorns the edge of my fishpond. Here's a post on how to shoot abstract macro photos.


6. make a list of macro photography subjects


Another way to get inspiration for creative macro photography ideas would be to make a list of suitable subjects like insects, food, hardware or water droplets. Give yourself an assignment, explore and have a blast with macro photography.

See the article on finding subjects in the kitchen or the bathroom - visit the links on the left side of this page.  Use different locations for generating more nacro Ideas, from the kitchen or bathroom, as an example.  From The Kitchen and The Bathroom. Here's an article on the Digital Photography School site that gives you 5 Tips For Finding New Ideas for macro photos.


MORE MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IDEAS

Would you like some inspiration for more macro photography ideas? Here are 6 more ideas on what to photograph as a close-up.

7. THIS IDEA WILL GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING

plastic turbine engineFilm Noir Effect - Macro photo of Turbine Engine

Look around at everything small within reach.  This close-up above is of a plastic model turbine engine that my son wanted for Christmas one year.  It had some yellowish glue remnants on it, so I decided to play around with converting it to black and white. I used a Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 filter called Noir.  Please share it if you like it.  


8. THIS IDEA MIGHT BE A LITTLE SOFT

cotton swabsMacro idea #2 Cotton Swabs

Look no farther than your own living room, kitchen, garage, tool shed or yes, even the bathroom. If you like this cotton swab idea, please share it.

9. YOU CAN NAIL THIS ONE

nailsI almost nailed this one

The most common subjects of macro photography are flowers and insects. What interesting objects can you find other than flowers or insects to do some creative close-up photography?

The nails pictured above were resting in an open box by my back door. They were leftovers from an improvement project to my deck.

To the naked eye they appear clean, smooth and shiny. Upon looking at them closely in the macro photo, the textures and imperfections become quite obvious.


10. MORE MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY IDEAS - THIS ONE IS A LITTLE CORNY

corn up close I thought I could butter you up for this one.

One tip for more creative ideas is to look around your home for common objects that my have interesting textures.  They turn up everywhere is you keep on looking.

This abstract photo of the decorative dried corn is another example where texture plays a big role in the photo. Search your nearby surroundings for commonplace objects that might take on a whole new look when observed using macro photography.

Notice that the composition technique of shooting the photo from one end toward the other at an angle creates a leading diagonal line. You can get additional digital photo tips on composition here: Photography Composition.


11. sweet idea

strawberry close-up

There are many pictures of strawberries and other fruits and vegetables showing the outside, but not as many showing the inside. Try using a very sharp knife and carefully slicing a few edibles and see what you find.

The food in your kitchen, particularly fruits and vegetables, offer a world of macro photography ideas on the inside. Another technique for thinking up more macro photography ideas for subject matter is to consider your use of depth of field.


ideas from you readers

Here are some fresh ideas submitted the readers of Better Digital Photo Tips for what you can use as a subject for your close-up photos.

1. RED ROSE MACRO

They were sitting there on the kitchen counter, being enjoyed by anyone who came into the room. I wasn't looking for any ideas to shoot at the time. I was getting ready to eat dinner.

My daughter received a bunch of beautiful red roses for Valentine's day from a certain male friend. I still had my camera and tripod set up in the basement. I carried the roses downstairs along with a spray bottle.

The set-up was easy. The rose buds were about a foot or so above the floor, nestled snugly in the vase with a few small bunches of baby's breath.


2. CLOSE-UP OF BLUEBERRIES

I was enjoying a bowl of Cheerios one morning, saw this bowl of fresh blueberries in front of me and got the inspiration for another macro image. It's not abstract macro photography, but I thought you'd enjoy seeing it anyway. 

One of the great things about shooting macr is that opportunities are everywhere, no matter where you are, no matter what time of year it is.

The lighting wasn't quite right at the kitchen table, so I grabbed the bowl of berries and carried the container to another room near a window. I like to use natural light for my macro work whenever I can and the morning light coming in through the window did a good job of illuminating my subject.

Exposure was f/22 for 3.5 seconds at ISO 320. I used a 85mm prime lens with three extension tubes on a Canon 5D Mark III camera. I tweaked the image with ColorEfex Pro after capture, using the detail extractor and lens vignette filters.


3. PINK BEAUTY


"I thought this Dahlia was beautiful and wanted to capture that beauty in my photo."

Thank you Kathy for sharing your flower close-up. The dark leaves make the flowers stand out nicely. The two flower buds had depth and the lighting is nice and soft, great for showing detail in this image. I wonder how it would look if it was a bit lighter. What do you think?

Just about all of my macro images of flowers are done with soft, natural lighting. Sometimes I use a scrim to diffuse or block direct light and sometimes I used a silver or white card to bounce some fill light or create a few highlights.


4. CLOSE UP OF YELLOW LEAF

I was "cleaning up" my computer and came across a folder marked Fall 2012. The leaves are long gone know, but this photo is a good reminder of the changing seasons and the different opportunities that are presented to us.

This photo was shot with a Canon 5D Mark III with a 24-105mm zoom at 105mm. Exposure was 1/5 second at f/8.0. Not a true macro photo, but a good example of an interesting world that exists when we take the time to move in close and look.


5. CLOSE UP OF FALL LEAVES AND PINE NEEDLES

It was raining but I couldn't resist shooting a few quick images before nightfall. This isn't a macro image, but it is a close-up shot of a natural subject, so I decided to submit it to the digital photography tips website.

I didn't need any macro lenses or gadgets to make this photo. I liked it for its simple composition and the overall warm color scheme. It is definitely lacking in visual punch, due to the flat lighting and monochrome subject, but I still enjoy looking at this type of occurrence in nature when it presents itself to me.

Perhaps I should have adjusted the leaves into a tighter arrangement and cropped in closer.


6. GERBERA FLOWER - MAY 2015

My wife recently planted these Gerbera flowers in the front of our home. As soon as I saw them I new I had to try to shoot a few close-ups.

The subtle color changes within the tip of each petal was really interesting-for a nature geek like me. I used my favorite "macro lens," my 85mm f/1.8 prime lens combined with extension tubes. This particular close-up was taken using just a single 31mm extension tube. 

I also chose not to stop down the lens to a very small aperture. I wanted the rest of the flowers and the background to go quite soft-out of focus and have all of the emphasize on the tips of the petals.



Thanks so much for reading this post on getting ideas for shooting macro photography. If you've enjoyed any of my posts it would mean the world to me if you'd share with others, or reach out let me know through Pinterest or Facebook.

Keep shooting. Keep learning. Keep improving.

Article published by Bruce Lovelace

ABOUT BRUCE LOVELACE

Bruce is the publisher of Better Digital Photo Tips. Read more on the About Page. He's been known as The Traveling Photographer ever since he started his location photography business in 1994.

View some of Bruce's photos on Instagram.   Visit the Facebook Page. Watch him on YouTube.  Bruce runs photo workshops and provides one on one digital photography coaching.

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