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Macro Photography

And here is our first article, on the wonderful world of Macro Photography.

Here we will be talking about this enlightening technique, as well as providing example shots from a talented macro photographer Akshay, who's gallery can be found here...

We have divided the article up into 4 sections:

1 - What is Macro Photography

2 - The Techy Bits

3 - Tips and Techniques

4 - Macro Competition

We would like to thank Akshay for the use of his great photos, and we hope that you find this article useful.

What is Macro Photography?

We live in a world with so many fascinating things that so often go unnoticed, in particular small items that are hard to spot with the naked human eye.

How often when we mow the lawns do we complain about those little yellow dandelions and daisies that sprout up and let us know it is time to mow again.

     dandelion macro     daisy macro

They're not so bad after all are they?

From the beauty of close up flowers, we then have the wild and wacky world of insects. This is where Macro Photography really comes to life and you get to experience an entirely different world.

Have a look at these photos below: (click for bigger versions)

Macro Spider     Macro Caterpillar

Hithching a Ride Macro     Mossy

The Techy Bits

Technically macro photography is when you produce an image where your subject is captured in your photograph at life-size or larger with a 1:1 ratio.

Do you need a special camera for taking great Macro shots?

No, most low priced digital cameras have a macro setting of some sort, allowing you to get up close. This is normally symbolised by a flower button or dial on your camera.

With fixed lens (lower cost) digital cameras there will be a minimum focus distance for your macro shots. This will be found in your user manual, and in some cases you can go as close as 1cm to your subject.

SLR Cameras

While you can achieve great results with consumer cameras, there are benefits associated with SLR cameras.

With these cameras, the ability to take macro photographs is dependent on the lens rather than the camera. While you can use zoom lenses for macro photography, there are specialised macro lenses which are typically prime lenses (fixed focus).

While proving to be very costly, these lenses are great and the quality and detail that these lenses can capture speaks for itself.

If you don't have the big bucks for the flashy lenses, there are also attachments such as extension tubes and bellows that can help you achieve great results with standard lenses.

Tips and Techniques

Keep er Steady

While you could get away with shooting handheld, a tripod is a highly recommended accessory for macro photography. There are some pretty funky tripods available that will allow you to get those tricky angles and stay as close to your subject as you need to.

The tripod pictured is a Gorillapod and can be purchased for around $50 for a compact camera and $75 for an SLR.

Light em Up

Experiment with your flash. You might be looking at an aperture of around F11 to get everything nice and sharp, and small apertures need plenty of light.

With SLR cameras, get someone to help you and hold the flash in a position that will best light your subject. You can use a piece of paper to reflect light back onto your subject as well.

It is important that you don't end up with too much light, as you don't want to over expose and lose important details in the highlights.

Focussing on Apperture

These two go hand in hand. You do not have to have everything in focus to create a dramatic photograph. If you look at the example below, you will see some areas that are nice and sharp, with softly focussed surroundings.

     Macro Moth

The way to control this is with your aperture settings. If you select a wide aperture of say 2.8 then only the closest focus point will be in focus and the remainder of the frame will be soft. Alternatively if you go as narrow as F11, you should end up with everything nice and sharp.
     Macro Moth

If you are photographing subjects such as insects, then it is very important that you get the eyes tack sharp, or your macro photo will not look right. Finding the eyes of an insect can be a mission in itself sometimes, but it is definitely worth it!

     Macro Fly Photo


When composing your shot, a good thing to remember is the rule of thirds.

Some cameras have a grid setting on the view finder, but if this is not available on your camera then imagine your photo is cut into a set of 3x3 squares.

Photographs have more impact when the subject is in one of the intersecting thirds rather than the middle.
Rule of Thirds

Have a go and WIN!!

The competition is now closed, thanks for all those great creative entries!

The winner of our Macro Feature Competition is Kelly from Wellington with his great shot below:

Look how nice and sharp he has got the eye to create a very powerful photograph!