Do you want to capture incredible macro photography?
It’s not as hard as you think.
With a few simple macro photography tips, you’ll be capturing stunning macro photos (in no time at all).
Today, I’ll share these tips with you!
Let’s dive right in.
1. Start by Selecting a Nearby Macro Subject
Here’s your first macro photography tip:
The best macro photography requires a beautiful subject.
It’s actually possible to find beautiful macro subjects–anywhere you go.
This is because macro photography involves showing viewers something they’ve never seen before. It involves getting extra close to your subject.
And there are so many things that look beautiful–once you get close!
So you don’t have to worry about not being able to find subjects.
Because in macro photography, subjects are everywhere.
Flowers are my favorite macro photography subjects. And you can find flowers anywhere you go. Even cities have flowers! Just check the plant pots and flower boxes outside storefronts.
You can also shoot subjects that might normally seem boring, such as leaves:
Here are some macro subjects to consider:
- Tree bark
- Dead plants
- Patterns in sand
(The list goes on.)
So don’t feel like you have to search hard for macro photography subjects.
The best subjects?
They’re in your own backyard!
2. Shoot in Cloudy Weather for Saturated Colors
This one is an ultra-important macro photography tip.
Because macro photography…
…is all about the light.
Good light will take your macro photography from mediocre to stunning–like that.
So what counts as good light for macro photography?
One excellent type of macro photography lighting is soft light. You get it on cloudy days–when the sun is completely obscured by thick, puffy clouds.
You see, the clouds act like a giant diffuser. They take the harsh sunlight, and they make it all nice and pleasing.
Now, cloudy light is a favorite of macro flower photographers.
When the light is soft and diffused, it creates saturated colors. It makes colors pop.
So flower shots really stand out.
Notice the saturated blues in this shot:
However, if you’re less interested in deeply-saturated colors, and you’re more interested in high-contrast, dramatic macro shots, read on:
3. Use Backlight During the Golden Hours for Dramatic Macro Photography
If you want to capture more dramatic macro photos…
…then you need to shoot with backlight.
Backlight refers to situations where the light comes from behind your subject. This is most common when the sun is low in the sky (on cloudless days).
The sun shines from behind your subject, creating backlight–so that your subject is lit from behind.
To find the best backlight, you should go out just after sunrise or just before sunset on sunny days. Then you’ll get powerful backlight.
Plus, the sunlight will be a nice, soft gold color, which will add an extra bit of pop to your subject.
Here’s how to work with backlight:
Make sure that you get down on a level with your subject.
Position your subject so that the actual sun isn’t in the frame.
(Either make sure that the sun is just outside the photo, or the sun is blocked by your subject.)
Now, if you let your camera work on its own, it’ll analyze the bright sky–and it’ll darken the whole photo to compensate.
This is exactly what you don’t want.
To compensate for your camera, you have to brighten the photo substantially. You can dial in some exposure compensation. Or you can use Manual mode to decrease the shutter speed.
Either way, make sure that you brighten the photo to avoid silhouettes.
You want a perfectly exposed subject–with a bright background.
If you can do this, you’ll capture an incredible, dramatic macro photo.
By the way…
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4. Find a Gorgeous Background to Complement Your Subject
One thing most photographers don’t realize:
The background matters as much as the subject.
This is especially true in macro photography, where you’re often trying to produce simple, peaceful photos.
So you have to be extra careful when choosing a background.
I recommend sticking with a simple background. One that’s nice and uniform.
Here are a few options when picking a background:
- A solid wall of green (such as a tree during summer)
- Colorful leaves during fall
- Anything lit by the setting sun
- A cloudy sky
- An orange sky
One thing to remember:
A background should be beautiful on its own.
That is, if you just photographed the background, the photo would still be stunning.
Empty, yes. But stunning.
If you can achieve that?
You’ll be well on your way to creating a gorgeous macro photo.
5. Use a Wide Aperture for Gorgeous Bokeh
You know that you must find a beautiful background.
But the best backgrounds in macro photography…
…require a bit of camera work.
Specifically, the best backgrounds are deeply blurred–so there’s very little detail. Just color.
(This background blurriness is referred to as bokeh. The more bokeh, the better!)
When the background is blurred, it doesn’t take away from the subject. Ideally, it makes the subject look even more beautiful.
To create a nice blurred background is simple:
You use an extra-wide aperture.
(Aperture refers to a hole in the lens that lets in light. Wider apertures let in lots of light, whereas narrow apertures reduce the amount of light. Wider apertures also blur the background.)
I use this trick all the time. Simply set your camera to Manual mode or Aperture Priority mode. Turn the aperture dial until you’ve found an aperture in the f/2.8 to f/5.6 range.
Then watch as your background is made blurry and beautiful.
6. Isolate Your Subject for Stunning Macro Photography
Now that you’ve discovered the best way to create a background…
…it’s time to talk about positioning your subject.
You see, another key aspect of macro photography is composition.
(Composition refers to the arrangement of elements in the frame. That is, should you place your subject near the corner of the frame? Or in the center?)
If you can choose the right way to position your subject, you’re guaranteed to get a more powerful shot.
So here’s my main composition tip for you:
Choose one subject.
And then isolate it.
You don’t want a composition that’s chaotic. You don’t want your viewers to struggle to understand what you were trying to photograph.
Instead, you want your viewers to see your photo–and immediately know what it’s about.
So first, choose your one subject. Think about what initially drew you to the scene.
This will be your compositional anchor point. It can be a single flower, a single insect, a single leaf, etc. Anything can work, as long as it’s alone.
Which is the next step:
Look around your subject. Do you see anything that might distract the viewer?
If so, get rid of the distraction. Either by changing your composition, or by physically removing the distraction.
You don’t want elements distracting from the main subject!
7. Use Manual Focus for Perfectly Focused Photos
I have one last macro photography technique for you.
(One I use constantly!)
Fortunately, it’s extremely useful–and simple!
All you have to do…
…is turn off the autofocus on your camera lens. And start shooting with manual focus!
That is, use the ring on your lens to focus manually.
Why is this so important?
When you’re doing macro photography, it’s essential that you nail focus on your subject.
Especially when you’re working with a wide aperture (which I generally recommend). Because a wide aperture creates a very narrow plane of focus–so that only a small part of the scene is actually sharp.
So if you focus even slightly incorrectly, the wrong part of the scene will be in focus.
Now, most lenses have good autofocus systems. But when they’re focusing at high magnifications, the autofocus just…fails. It slows down. It hunts. Plus, it’s tough to set focus exactly where you want it.
Use manual focus!
That’s how you’ll nail focus–every time.
Macro Photography Tips: Now Over to You
Now you have the know-how to capture incredible macro photography.
You know how to find the best subjects.
You know how to shoot in the best light.
And you know how to choose the best compositions.
But don’t stop there!
If you’re looking to keep taking your macro photos to new heights, I recommend you sign up for my email list, where I send all sorts of macro photography tips, tricks, and secrets that I don’t share on my blog.
I’ll also send you my eBook, free of charge:
Mastering Macro Photography: 10 Quick Tips for Stunning Macro Photos
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