Photographing in the macro mode is like looking at your subjects under a magnifying glass. The closer you get, the more dramatically magnified your subjects will be. Where even the smallest detail or grain comes to life and sparks the imagination.
What are the things you should remember before and during taking digital macro photography?
The macro mode is usually identified by the flower icon. In this mode, your camera rearranges the optics so you can get within just a few inches of your subjects.
For the exact number of inches, check your camera's manual. Or if it's not in your manual, experiment by taking photos at different inches away from your subject. See at which point your subject comes out blurry.
Will you use natural light and turn off your flash or will you use other light sources such as a ring flash?
If you're too close to your subject, don't use the flash from your camera. It will over expose your subject, cast dark shadows behind it, and make the photo look unnatural. Like the photo on the right:
If you must use flash, fire your flash at a lower light (some cameras allow this). Or better still, use a ring flash unit that can be mounted in front of a lens and provides even lighting.
"How about if I use natural light and turn off flash instead?"
That is advisable, provided there's enough natural light to illuminate the scene properly. Not too harsh as in during midday, and not too little as during twilight.
Here's an example of a digital macro picture taken with flash off:
It's best to take digital macro photos early in the morning while the wind is calm and the flowers and plants are covered with dew.
Keep in mind, though, that if the light is not enough, the camera compensates by opening the shutter longer to allow more light.
A slower shutter speed exaggerates the effect of camera shake. So be sure to use a tripod or lean against any steady surface to minimize—or better yet, eliminate—camera shake.
Aside from using a tripod or monopod in digital macro photography, you can further minimize camera shake by using the self-timer or a remote control feature so that you finger doesn't jab at the shutter.
If you have a macro lens or a zoom lens, then they will come in handy in digital macro photography. If not, you can still take beautiful macro shots using the lens contained in your camera.
Just mount your digital camera on a tripod, set your camera in the macro mode, maximize the optical zoom settings, then take your picture.
Tip: What if your camera won't allow you to get close enough to your subject? Take the macro photo in the highest resolution your camera is capable of, then crop the digital photo using your favorite image editing software.
To get closer to your subject without editing your picture in the computer, you might want to add screw-on macro lenses, typically 50mm or 100mm in focal length.
But make sure that what you see is exactly what the camera captures. So...
It's especially critical in digital macro photography that you compose your subject using the LCD instead of the viewfinder. This is because what you see in your viewfinder is not the exact image captured by your camera lens.
The subject is not where I positioned it to be and parts of the photo are cut off. This is known as the parallax error.
Take a look at the ff photos:
You would have wasted preparing for that macro shot if the photo turned out cropped. You can avoid the above mistake by using your LCD to compose your picture.
Aside from keeping the camera as steady as possible, try to focus on the most important part of the scene because the depth of field (the front-to-back range in the picture that can be in sharp focus) in the macro setting is narrow. Let's say you're photographing a flower, focus on the stamens or pistils inside. Your subject or the one you focused on is sharp, while the background is blurry.
That's ok. Just take the photo and edit it in your computer later. Open it in an image editor like Adobe Photoshop, then blur the background. The resulting photograph will look like it's been taken with a narrow depth of field.
A narrow depth of field has its advantage, too. Your subject stands out from the picture, and distractions from the background are minimized if not eliminated.
To focus on the most important element of your picture, press the shutter halfway. Then press it all the way to take the photo.
Here are the main things you should remember in digital macro photography:
That's it! Practice and enjoy your adventures in digital macro photography. Next time you're looking for interesting subjects, don't forget those that are right under your nose. :-)
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