Shooting Macro

Last weeks theme for my diploma course was macro so I thought I would give some quick tips on shooting macro.

  • Use a small aperture to give the widest possible depth of field.
  • With the small aperture you will need to use a tripod, the shutter speed could be quite long unless you have very string light.
  • If you are shooting outside a calm overcast day is best.
  • For flowers a water spray can be useful, water droplets can lift an image.
  • Using a flash can be good and a ring flash is best.

If you are using a flash you really want to go to manual mode on your camera and if you aren’t using a ring flash then getting the flash off the camera is a good idea; even better if you have high speed sync capability. An example might help show why….

If you use aperture priority mode (since you want to make sure you have the smallest possible aperture) and then use a flash you will get a fixed shutter speed, maybe 1/60s for example. Without the flash this is still a long enough exposure for the ambient light to expose the background.

Example No. 2

ISO 3200 f/40 1/60s

Not the most extreme example, it was quite dark when I took this image, but you can see some of the lighter background showing. The flower is a bit past it unfortunately!

However if you move to a manual exposure you can adjust the shutter speed up to the maximum supported by the flash and camera, this might 1/200s or much higher with high speed sync. In this case the ambient light won’t be enough to expose the background and the you end up with a clean black background which can be very good for removing distractions from the image.

Example No. 1

ISO 3200 f/40 1/500s

Both these images were taken with off camera flash, the only difference is the shutter speed and as you can see the background hs gone completely dark in the second image, even at ISO3200.

And don’t forget to you still need to compose the image…

Flowers_2011-05-04_21-30-13_DSC_3962_©RichardLaing(2011)

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