Macro Photography

Last week in my Forum, Christina asked this photography question:

Can you explain Macro? My camera has a Macro function and I have no idea what to do with it. I’ve tried playing with it, but the images are terrible. When, why, and how should I use Macro.

So, here you go, Christina! Basic info about Macro.

What is Macro photography?
Macro photography is a term used for close up photos. Technically, true macro photography is defined as photos which are made between 1/10 life size and life size (ie–really, really close up). Many “macro” settings on point and shoot cameras (which can be seen as the flower symbol on your camera’s dial) are not true macro, but simply assist you in getting a better close up shot. Make sense?

On point and shoot cameras, you will typically be able to select macro (the flower symbol) to take close up shots. On an SLR (single lens reflex) camera, you will need to purchase a lens with macro capabilities. I currently own a 70-200mm lens, which can zoom in a lot…however, the lens will literally not allow me to get close to anything (seriously, it yells at me whenever I try). No, really, I often try to get macro-type shots, and the lens refuses to focus until I back up far enough. Not conducive to good macro shots.

Now THAT is close up!

macro dragonfly

by Hypergurl – Tanya Ann on Flickr

When to use the Macro setting:
I typically use Macro when photographing plants, flowers, and insects. This is not the only reason to use the Macro setting, but possibly the most common use.

Why use Macro?
Use the Macro setting to capture the smallest details of objects. Often macro images show just a part of an object (such as the petals of a flower) and are more abstract than realistic. Using the macro setting to take a portrait could turn out beautiful, but the likelihood of your subject being blurry is great (see below).

Why aren’t my Macro shots turning out?
One of the main reasons that macro shots fail is that they require a large aperture (ie–your lens opening will be/should be very large, letting in a lot of light), making your depth of field very shallow (ie–only a small portion of your image will be in clear focus. The rest of the image will be blurred.) Because of this, you must chose your focus carefully and stay very still. Tripods are especially handy when doing macro photography.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions, Christina! Everyone, please visit my Blog Frog forum to ask more questions! I love having prompts. 🙂

PS–I am not a macro expert, and currently I do not own a good macro lens. But I LOVE macro photography and the stunning images that can be captured with this style of photography.

Lolli is a lifelong member of the Church, married to a convert. She has five kids–3 girls and 2 boys (and a camera that goes everywhere she goes!). Read more on her personal blog, Better in Bulk.

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