Macro Photography and You

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Wikipedia will tell you that Macro Photography is literally, close-up photography. I would rather tell you that macro photography is the art of expanding the smallest detail into the most beautiful of images. Macro photography allows you as the photographer the opportunity to show case the intricate details that make life as beautiful as it is. Whether you are taking photos of flowers, of tiny patterns or of the lives of earth’s smallest creatures, macro photography is your way of letting others know that there’s something there, something so small that deserves far more attention.

Just because you don’t own a Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1–5× Macro lens doesn’t mean you are not capable of macro photography. I shoot my own close-ups-slash-macros with my standard 18-55mm lens! Remember, what you have right now, that’s the best, and that’s all you need. While it may be nice to have the $895 lens and the 35mm digital to go with it, sometimes you have to accept and understand that capturing the moment in time you want to capture, only really requires a camera, and if that’s what you have, you already have all you need.

Maybe you need a couple tips and tricks to get you going with macro photography, lucky for you, that’s where I come in!

I only have one rule concerning macro, it’s simple, COMPOSITION!!


The difference between your close-up and your work of art, your moment in time your outstanding, undeniably amazing photo is composition, and how you are representing your subject with respect to everything around it. Maybe you just need to crop it correctly maybe you needed to consider that aperture whilst shooting, bottom-line is, a close up is just a close up, but capturing the very thing that drew your attention in the first place is exactly where you should start. Brace yourself, its example time!

Example number 1 (all images are my own, captured with my Canon EOS 350D and standard kit lens, the 18-55mm as mentioned above).
Immediately you realise exactly what I liked most about this flower, it’s staring you in the face, albeit composed such that it lies at the bottom left corner, the obvious draw for me was the intricate detail of the centre of the flower. I loved how all the little bulbs were clustered together, so much so that I let my aperture grab that most. Flower images are common yes, but flower images that let you have a glimpse of what was going through the photographers mind when he shot the image are great! 

Example 2

To say I like explosions would have you guessing about my intentions, and possibly my stability, when I say I like explosions, I think it’s best described by images like the one on the left.

Nuclear, the centre of this beautiful image erupts outward unfolding into this fiery yellow bloom. This bloom needed that crisp chiseled look of a violent eruption, I cropped the image to really focus the viewer’s attention to the centre whilst the edges remain sharp and the background, it’s not forgotten, you could say the background is the aftermath, blackness, nothing.

Example 3

Who doesn’t love bunnies?

I bought my darling wife two adorable dwarf-bunnies.

For me, personally, this is my example of a close up, not a macro, not a work of art. Whilst I did capture the moment in time, the full image of course being her smile in the background, this crop to try show off close-up capabilities missed the mark completely. Let’s consider why.

For starters, the rabbit is cute, but nothing about this image says so. If I had included my wife’s hand in the image the bunny’s size would become the focus and it’d be ‘cuter’ trouble is, all I’ve given my dear viewers to consider is a cut-off shoulder in the background, this doesn’t tell a story, and certainly doesn’t give you perspective.

Compose! It was composition that failed this photograph.

Example 4

Another flower! Would you have guessed at first glance?

It’s not about the flower; it’s barely about the colour in this image. It’s all about the texture! Feel the luscious furry marshmallow-like softness of the centre of this bloom!

I loved the cluster, like a gathering of royals in a court wearing their fur coats and fancy hats. I cropped this image right down to reveal the detail someone walking by would very likely miss.

Try it yourself, don’t just walk by! Stop get down on your haunches and inspect even the smallest bloom, find something you love, and capture it in a way that you can draw someone else’s attention to it.

Example 5

What is it? Is it the under-side of a UFO? My dear reader, it’s just a glass. It’s just a glass.
Everything around you has potential when it comes to macro photography! Everything around you has detail you’re not appreciating. It’s obvious how the glass appealed to me, it appealed to me because with a little tweaking of my levels in Photoshop, I’m able to blur the lines between fantasy and reality with this image. I softened it, I tried to reduce as much of the exposure as possible to lose the detail of the place-mat and I de-saturated the image to make it black and white. What we’ve ended up with is a disc like object that could either be domed outward towards you, or a tunnel of light in a black space, or a glass, standing upright simply photographed from above, straight down with a flash.

The possibilities are endless!

I haven’t bombarded you with technical terminology; I haven’t told you that you need serious equipment to be able to perform any kind of macro photography, no. I’ve given you some helpful tips, given you (I hope) some interesting examples of how something simple can become something great. I’ve shown you that in the smallest things lie beauty that you’re not going to believe until you get in there with that macro function of your camera.

One last tip? Always shoot in RAW, if you don’t already, start, play with every function, and turn your shots into something spectacular!
A final word? COMPOSITION!

From me, Jacques Hugo, a keen and enthusiastic photographer, just like you, I bid you endless amazing photographs.
Keep shooting!

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