What is Macro Photography?

Macro photography can be described as close up photography. The true definition of macro photography states that image projected onto the photographic medium (the film or the digital sensor) is close to the same size of the subject. The subjects of macro photography are small objects that range from insects and flowers to coins.

Macro Lenses

Because the lens is so close to the subject in macro photography, we need macro lenses to get the job properly done. These lenses help keep the subject the same size as the photographic medium, but what really sets them apart from other lenses is their ability to have sharp focus at very close distances. In fact, it's because of this that you can't substitute a regular lens for a macro lens in larger scale photography. The image won't be sharp at long distances.

Some lenses are adjustable with tubes or bellows so that you can alter the distance of the lens from the photographic medium. Moving the lens away from the camera increases the image's magnification, while making the focusing distance closer to the camera. You can also place a telephoto lens over your camera's existing lens to get the same effect, although this does not always produce the greatest results.

Depth of Field

Depth of Field is a huge factor in macro photography. Because of the close up nature in macro, the smallest distance, even a millimeter, can be the difference between an object being in focus or being blurry. You can take your time setting up to shoot inanimate objects, but living creatures, like bugs, aren't going to stick around for your tweaks.

Lighting

Because the depth of field is so narrow, you need to compensate by shooting with a small aperture (higher f/ number). This might not be enough natural light for your exposure, and you can compensate by doing one of two things. You can slow the shutter speed, but that is not recommended if you're shooting a living creature like a bug, because the tiniest movement will come out as a blur. You can also add lighting to compensate for the aperture.

Lighting macro photography can be very challenging. Since the lens is so close to the subject, it is almost impossible to place a light between the camera and subject. Any light you place behind or to the side is likely to create unwanted shadows. 

You can use your flash, but the bad thing about that is it may blow out the subject due to the close distance. You can compensate by adding diffusion to the flash to bring down its intensity. Almost anything can be used for diffusion, even a plastic shopping bag from your local grocery store.


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