What is Macro Photography?

8 years 8 months ago #198251 by dang
During earlier years before lenses actually focused to life size magnification, an image was considered macro when the subject was the same size as in life when it was printed on a 4X5 photo. This was because most lenses only focused to close distances of a few feet.

However, with the advances in lens design, lenses now focus within inches of their subject, so a macro image is considered "true macro" when the subject is the same size (or larger) on a 35mm full frame (24x36mm) as it is in real life. Anything less than 1:1 magnification is considered "Close Up". And while this probably isn't going to win me any friends, it needs to be said: Cropping an image of less than 1:1 does not make it macro. While there are circumstances where cropping is needed, such as when having a circular frame if using a reversed lens, or to help composition... there are several things to consider before cropping your shots.


Why Are My Insect Photos Blurry Looking?
There can be numerous reasons, though the most common is over-cropping. Improper exposure, or shutter speeds which are too slow, often referred to as Motion blur can also play part. If hand-holding your camera, keep the shutter at least as fast as the millimeter of the lens used. This depends greatly on your steadiness, so increasing ISO allows using faster speeds and improves chances. DSLR sensors have come a long way over time, so don’t be afraid to try higher ISO, at least to check. And when shooting macro, remember motion is exaggerated even more due to the closeness of your subject to lens, so even shorter shutter speeds will render better results.

Why Is My Depth Of Field So Shallow?
Increasing magnification always decreases DOF for any given aperture. Depending on magnification amount, depth of field can be paper thin. This is why we usually “Stop Down” the aperture. However, there are limits. Lenses of all types are sharpest when aperture is closed one, or two stops from open. Going beyond, and lens diffraction begins adding distortion. For all types of photography, f/8 to f/11 generally gives a reasonable compromise between dof and clarity. Allow subject size, and creativity to decide.

Are There Other Ways To Increase DOF?
The most common way is to “Stack” photos. You make exposures at various focus points and use a program to combine them, so it's usually done under controlled conditions. I only photograph live bugs, so it's not something I use. And since it requires heavy manipulation of the final image, I consider it more useful to photographers with good Photoshop skills. Combine Z is a good program to get started. Check instructions and compatibility for your computer.

Can I Use A Tripod, Or Flash When Photographing Insects?
Many people use tripods with great success, but you need extreme patience. If possible, set up and wait for insects to come to you since movement scares bugs away. Focus on a flower, and use a cable release, or remote to trip the shutter when insects move into the focused area. If possible, using mirror lock-up also reduces camera vibration which can blur your shot.

However, Flash allows the easiest alternative, and improves results due to it stopping motion. Flash syncs with your camera at 1/200, or 1/250th a second in aperture priority, depending on camera make and body type. But the flash duration is much shorter. Flash sync speed can be set on most Canon bodies via the custom function menu. This allows simply setting your desired f/stop to gain dof, and the exposure is automatically adjusted. However, because the flash exposes for the primary subject only, you usually find you have black backgrounds. This can be controlled by using manual settings, and/or metering for the background. Meter the background around one stop under for a natural look, and your flash will do the rest. Keep shutter speed at, or a little below sync speed. And by watching background, you can include elements close to the subject which are easier lighted, or include bright green areas that blend well. Try avoiding excessive clutter, and over-bright “background hot-spots” that distract, and use minimum f/stop to blur background elements while keeping enough dof for the subject.

Photographing Insects
Some species of insects come to bait, such as sliced fruit, or raw meat. Or mix a teaspoon of honey in warm water and spray on leaves, but beware, plants and flowers wilt in a few hours from honey. You can also capture bugs in a jar, and set in a refrigerator for around 30 minutes, the insect will slow down and can be photographed inside. Avoid poisonous spiders, or wasps of any type. When photographing bees or ants, focus in front of them, and allow them to come to you. Avoid Wasps especially in the Fall when they can be extremely aggressive, but use caution always. Most of all, take lots of photos, get creative and have fun.



Basic Equipment Requirements To Photograph Insects

Equipment will vary greatly depending on the intended use of your photographs. If you only post on the web, a point and shoot camera with macro functions could be all you need. And while trimming your photos is not always a bad thing, work within the limits of what you have. For web display, trimming photos can increase detail if done conservatively. But if cropped too much, noise is increased, and detail suffers. And while Noise Reduction programs can be helpful, avoid over-processing which adds “halo” or smudges tiny hairs.

Of course, if needing large file sizes for printing, the only option is to increase magnification, and here is where a DSLR, and macro lens deserves consideration. Nothing beats a true macro lens with a set of extension tubes, converter, or a Canon MPE 65mm 1-5X macro lens for bringing out detail. Once you go beyond life size magnification, insects eye facets and hair become clear. And until you see your bug shots enlarged to 20 X 30” or more, you haven’t experienced the joy high pixel counts of newer digital cameras offer.

Insanity: doing the same thing over, and over again expecting different results. (Albert Einstein)
www.dangphoto.weebly.com

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8 years 8 months ago #198261 by Bubbles
WOW, thanks for the detail explanation on macro photography. :thumbsup:


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8 years 8 months ago #198354 by dang

Bubbles wrote: WOW, thanks for the detail explanation on macro photography. :thumbsup:


Thank you for looking, Bubbles. Hope you found it helpful.

Insanity: doing the same thing over, and over again expecting different results. (Albert Einstein)
www.dangphoto.weebly.com

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8 years 8 months ago #198357 by chasrich
Nice explanation Dang... From now on when I explain macro to someone I will begin by saying "According to Dang...". :woohoo:

“Amateurs worry about equipment, professionals worry about money, masters worry about light, I just make pictures… ” ~ Vernon Trent
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8 years 8 months ago #198405 by bigbubbaG
Dang, Dang! That is GOOD! :cheers: I hope this thread gets "pinned" so I can reference it again & again.

Thanks again, G

Victory is won not in miles but inches. Win some, hold your ground, win some more.
---Louis L'amour

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8 years 7 months ago - 8 years 7 months ago #213580 by Hussain Al Mousa
Great talk Master Tom :)

I am just a guy with a camera...
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8 years 7 months ago #213635 by Baydream
Excellent, dang. I'm going to take BB's suggestion and pin this one.

Shoot, learn and share. It will make you a better photographer.
fineartamerica.com/profiles/john-g-schickler.html?tab=artwork

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8 years 6 months ago #220607 by TabbyWithIt
Thank you for posting this. It answered a lot of questions that I didn't know I had.


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6 years 6 months ago #364101 by Rita Sow
Wow. Very helpful. Thanks.


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5 years 7 months ago #432800 by stuartsbarbie
what fantastic information.  Thank you so much!!!!


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5 years 7 months ago - 5 years 7 months ago #432805 by Screamin Scott
I might add to the above, shoot in continuous mode with the lens set to life size & rock to & fro.... By shooting in continuous, it increases the odds that you will get an in focus shot...That said, I rarely follow this advice as I am old school & plan my shots before hand, but it does help when you are starting out. This is assuming you are using manual focus as you should...

Scott Ditzel Photography

www.flickr.com/photos/screaminscott/

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