How to take macro photos

Do you want to take good macro photos but don’t know how? In this blog I’ll share with you my knowledge about how you can set up you camera and take beautiful macro pictures. I have been taking pictures for many years already and feel a special connection towards macro photography. It’s a niche that brings a lot of creativity and options to play around and make it your own. With these few basic and easy to learn tips and tricks you will be able to take photos of different subjects, from small animals to flowers. Don’t worry if you haven’t taken any macro pictures before, this tutorial will be easy to follow and can be put into practice immediately.  

What is macro photography?

First of all, macro photography is basically taking pictures of things from very close up. I personally enjoy photographing the smallest flowers and magnify them until you can see every little detail of it. However, you can also photograph animals or people. When taking a macro photo, you’ll notice the shallow depth of field that appears and lays the focus on the subject or even only a small part of it. There are a lot of ways to experiment with this, creating different types of backgrounds, use of color and lighting. The most important and difficult part though, is to get the focus right. This can take some practice, so keep checking and zooming in on the photos you took to see where the sharp parts are. 

What do you need to take good macro photos?

Let’s start by saying you don’t need the most expensive gear. Every type of camera, lens or tripod could create some kind of macro effect, however the results will be very different from each other. To give you an example, see the image below. I have taken three pictures from the same subject but with different types of lenses. A 28 mm, 50 mm and 100 mm lens. You can see big differences in how close you can get. I prefer the 100 mm lens for the reason that it gets extremely close and still is super sharp. If you’d like to know more about this lens click here
Another item to think about is a tripod. It will be a lot easier to take pictures, but when you don’t own a tripod, you could get away with using the right camera settings and a steady hand.

different lenses

Which settings do you use?

First of all I have written an in depth blog about the basic camera settings and how to use them. If you want to understand what the ISO, aperture and shutter speed can do, please click here

In the image below you can see the setting I use most of the time taking macro photos. The aperture will be set as low as possible to create a nice depth of field. With the 100 mm macro lens I can go to F 2.8. Also, the ISO will be as low as possible to keep the image sharp. When there is enough light, I can set it to a 100 without the image getting too dark. And finally the shutter speed will be set. This will depend on the subject and other circumstances. For example, when I’m using a tripod I will have fewer movements to freeze, so the shutter speed can be a bit lower. But other times it’s better to have a very high and fast shutter speed. Maybe I’m shooting handheld, there is a strong wind blowing or the subject keeps moving. I personally will be most of the times around 1/100. 

camera settings

How do you set up your camera?

Most parts are already covered, but below here you can see how the camera is basically set up. I use a steady tripod and a camera with the 100 mm macro lens. It’s great to have a tripod that can go very low and is easy adjustable. Mine is also suitable for filming, which can give some nice footage when using the macro lens as well. First of all you can move your camera as close as possible to the subject you want to photograph. Be patience and have an eye on everything. I look through the camera to see how the image could look like and slowly move and turn the tripod to see what angles are possible. Eventually you’ll find the best angle where the framing, lighting and sharpness come together perfectly. That’s when you click. 

camera setup

I hope these tips and tricks will help you out taking your own macro photos. If you want to see more of the images I take click here. And don’t forget to have a look at my other blogs about traveling and photography. Have fun!