Are you struggling to come up with exciting macro photography ideas?
Don’t worry. Because in this guide, I’ll give you 10 amazing macro photography ideas–which will guarantee you stunning macro photos.
Let’s dive right in, starting with:
Macro Photography Idea #1: Shoot Flowers for Colorful Macro Photos
First up is my favorite macro subject of all time:
They’re colorful, which means you can capture some gorgeous abstract shots.
They’re full of interesting lines and shapes, which helps create powerful macro compositions.
And they tend to come in groups–which means that you’ll always have other flowers to put in the background.
I also recommend you get down on a level with the flowers. This will give you more intimate photos–photos that viewers are bound to enjoy.
Macro Photography Idea #2: Shoot Trees for Unique Macro Shots
Another classic macro subject?
Trees are interesting in every season. During spring, they bloom–which means you can capture some shots of budding branches.
During summer, they’re a nice, full green. Get in close for some photos of interesting leaves.
Autumn trees are my favorite. When trees go bright yellow and orange, you can capture some stunning macro photographs. I like to photograph autumn trees on cloudy days. Like flowers, they really benefit from the increased saturation.
Finally, you can shoot trees in winter. Embrace the barren, cold look–and you’ll capture some fantastic photos.
Macro Photography Idea #3: Photograph Rocks for Subtle Macro Images
One of the great things about rocks…
…is that they never go away. You can photograph them any time of the year. Which gives you a lot more time to experiment with lighting, composition, and creative effects.
When you photograph rocks, it’s important that you find an anchor for your composition. That is, you need a single rock that stands out–one that draws the eye.
Also, I’d recommend including some empty (negative) space in your rock photos. This will make your photos feel a bit less chaotic and a bit more peaceful.
One trick is to splash a bit of water on rocks. This creates more saturated colors–which is always good for photography!
Macro Photography Idea #4: Photograph Shells for Macro Photos With Texture
Anytime I see a shell, I get excited.
Shells are fantastic for macro photography!
Broadly speaking, there are two types of shell photos:
The close-up shots of shell textures…
…and the wider shots of shells on the sand.
Both of these can make for some amazing photos. In fact, if you find a shell, why not shoot both images?
If you’re shooting shell textures, I recommend using an extremely narrow aperture (around f/16 or greater) to create an image that’s sharp throughout.
If you’re shooting a wider shot of shells on sand, you still want a photo that’s sharp throughout. But you won’t be shooting at such high magnifications–and so you won’t need such a narrow aperture (f/8 to f/11 should do the trick).
Macro Photography Idea #5: Photograph Fallen Leaves for Intimate Macro Scenes
Leaves cover the forest floor in autumn. And that’s when you should capture some intimate macro scenes.
You need to find a compositional anchorpoint–one leaf that stands out from all the others. This could be a single leaf, sitting alone. Or it could be a colorful leaf among a cluster of bland leaves.
The important thing is that the leaf stands out.
Then arrange the rest of the composition around this main leaf.
Now, you’re free to include non-leaf elements. In fact, I love to include pine needles and twigs in my intimate macro scenes. They add a bit of variety to an otherwise simple photo.
One final note: Make sure that there are no distracting elements in the frame.
Because it’s easy to forget about a stray leaf or twig–which, if left in, will ruin a beautiful photo. So scan your composition one last time before taking the shot.
Macro Photography Idea #6: Photograph Moving Water for Abstract Macro Images
Macro photographers love to photograph water. But they often shoot magnified drops of water.
Now, water droplets can look interesting. But my favorite type of water photos are more abstract.
Here’s what you do:
Find some moving water. Rivers, streams, or waves all work. Then set your shutter speed to something slow–in the 1/2s to 1/25s range.
Carefully observe the movement of the water. And pan your camera with the water’s movement, while taking several photos.
I recommend shooting as many photos as you can. Experiment. Change your shutter speed and the speed of your panning.
Most of your shots won’t work. But a few of them will.
And you’ll love the abstract effect.
Macro Photography Idea #7: Photograph Dandelion Seedheads for Stunning Detail Shots
No macro photography portfolio is complete without a dandelion seedhead shot.
Because dandelion seedheads are the classic macro subject.
Now, to shoot dandelion seedheads, I suggest using a true macro lens.
(That is, a lens that gets you true 1:1 magnification.)
This is because dandelion seedheads are tiny–and you need to fill the frame to get a truly stunning shot.
You’re definitely going to need manual focus for this shot. So switch your lens to manual. Then spin the focus ring until you’re focusing as close as your lens allows.
The best dandelion seedhead macros generally include two things:
First, several simple, straight seedheads. These should be very obvious to the viewer and well-defined. Nothing should get in the way of these seedheads. For instance, there should not be other overlapping seedheads.
Second, a pleasing background. The best backgrounds are simple. If in doubt, use the sky as a background. It never fails–it’s either a nice blue, a pure white, or a beautiful orange.
If you include these two elements, you’re bound to capture a gorgeous dandelion seedhead shot.
Macro Photography Idea #8: Photograph Dead Plants for Compelling Macro Scenes
Most photographers avoid dead plants.
After all, they’re boring…right?
Personally, I’m a huge fan of dead plant photography. Here’s why:
Dead plants add mood to a scene. They give a sense of cold, of winter, and of emptiness.
So in wintertime?
I love to photograph dead plants.
I recommend you go out soon after a snowfall. That way, the ground will be a nice, pure white. And this is the perfect background for a dead plant photo.
Find a small, dead plant. Ideally, it’s alone. It’s isolated.
Then photograph the plant…paying special attention to the composition. You want to communicate that stark feeling of winter. You want viewers to feel like they’re there.
Macro Photography Idea #9: Photograph Spring Plants for a Beautiful Soft Photo
Here’s another great macro subject:
I’m talking about the little ferns, mosses, and greens that bloom on the forest floor. They tend to have lots of little details–which makes them perfect for macro photography.
For subjects like these, it’s important to get down on a level with your subject. You want to become a part of their little world.
This will help you find better compositions. But it’ll do more than that. Because it’ll also ensure you take photos that are wonderfully intimate.
I recommend you shoot spring plants against a cloudy sky. That way, you can have a bright white background–and this will contrast with the beautiful greens of spring.
Macro Photography Idea #10: Photograph Ice for an Abstract Macro Scene
It’s one of my absolute favorite macro subjects.
And here’s why:
Ice offers all sorts of little bubbles, cracks, and lines–which are wonderful for creating macro abstracts. Plus, it often has a beautiful deep blue color.
Now, you can often find the best ice in moving water that has frozen. Check out some small streams or rivers. You’re looking for the biggest bubbles possible (because these make for the best abstract shots).
Once you’ve found some ice, focus as close as possible with your lens. Use a narrow aperture (in the f/8 to f/16 range).
Try to picture the bubbles and cracks as geometry–and create a composition that moves the eye right through the frame.
That’s how you’ll capture a beautiful abstract ice shot.
Macro Photography Ideas: Next Steps
Hopefully, you’ve been inspired by these macro photography ideas–and you’re ready to start shooting!
Because now you know one of the great things about macro photography:
It’s possible to find macro subjects anywhere. Including your own backyard!
So what are you waiting for?
Get outside and start taking some gorgeous macro photos!
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