How To Take Macro Photos

Learning how to take macro photos isn’t as hard as what you’d think. With a combination of the right components, a keen imagination you can be on the track to taking the most stunning and powerful macro photos. Let’s get started on some things you need to begin learning how to take macro photos.

Firstly, you will need to plan what kinds of macro photos you want. Do you want to take macro photos of bugs and insects? Or do you want to shoot abstract macro photos? You can do a lot when learning how to take macro photos- and it’s all such great fun!

Becoming familiar with how to take macro photos depends on an ability to “see” in macro. This may sound funny because you haven’t actually started shooting yet. What I mean is that you need imagination. You will be able to form an image in your mind as what you want to see as a photo. Imagine what the macro photo will look like before you learn how to take macro photos from a technical sense. Even if you don’t know exactly, to be able to start thinking what a subject may look like is a great goal to aim for, and, will ultimately help you in creating a superb macro photograph.

The second thing in learning how to take macro photos is to be able to use a digital camera and a macro lens with expertise. If you are unsure with using a digital camera then you won’t be able to control the light and clarity of your image. This doesn’t take long and its’ not complicated. Digital camera control when you are discovering how to take macro photos is a great skill to master. Many digital cameras come with a macro or “close up” setting. You can get started learning how to take macro photos by simply choosing this setting and shoot some ordinary subjects closer than you normal would. If you can’t afford a lens, then try to place a magnifying glass in front of your lens for greater magnification. It’s not as good as a macro lens of course, but it will help you to start learning how to take macro photos.

The third element of successfully learning how to take macro photos is to look at what macro lenses are available for your camera. If you do not have a digital camera where interchanging lenses is possible, then you could always look at borrowing or hiring a camera to practice on. Many photo equipment places will let you hire macro lenses and, digital cameras too.

So what does a specialized macro lens have to do with how to take macro photos? Can’t you just use the magnifying glass and be done? Well yes and no. A magnifying glass is great to get started in learning how to take macro photos, but once you have passed that stage, then you will want something a little more sophisticated. It’s only natural and I encourage it.

What is a macro lens and how does it teach you how to take macro photos? Macro lens usually looks like a normal lens. Instead of having normal glass elements inside for standard focal lengths, it has been altered for close up focusing with a predominantly even ground of focus.

A macro lens is idea for reducing to the equivalent size as the subject. It can make things appear very big, which is what macro photography really means in laymen’s terms- to expand or make something look really large. There are various types of macro lenses around- Sigma has created one. I say “Sigma” because they design their lenses to fit on many different cameras by different manufacturers.

When you begin learning how to take macro photos- from home especially- you will need to think about two extra things. The first important thing in knowing how to take macro photos is understand that macro photography reduces the amount of light you have to work with. In this case, you’ll find that you need a lot more light than what you think. No more do we have the luxury of using the flash, relying on the light around us or just shooting and hoping for the best.

How to take macro photos also depends on your focal length. Your focal length in macro photography is one whereby the focus is attained at a certain numerical extension of the lens. In other words you may extend the lens out at 80mm and find that is the perfect focus for your macro photography. Whatever number that lens sits at, remember to always practice sharpening the focus of your macro images.

As a photography teacher, I can quite comfortably suggest that you begin your journey in learning how to take macro photos by practicing your focus in manual. Many photography enthusiasts become frightened of the manual setting and manual focus. If you feel this way, yet still want to learn how to take macro photos, then instead of thinking of it as something to be feared, think of it as something that serves you.

If you want to find out how to take macro photos that take peoples breath away, then it’s important to know how to become familiar with the manual setting, and, manual focus. The great thing about manual focus is that it gives you a much sharper image. Try this for yourself. Take two images of exactly the same thing, on in auto focus and the other in manual focus. Shoot and you’ll see just how important focus is in how to take macro photos.

There are many ways to get started in learning how to take macro photos. The first is to fire up your imagination. Then you can master the technical aspects very quickly. Learning how to take macro photos is a lot of fun. Always keep in your mind that photography is an artistic medium with a technical application…not the other way around.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (20)

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  1. Kenny says:

    Great article, thanks!

  2. Adam says:

    Amy, won’t a magnifying glass distort the edges of the photo?

  3. Roy B. says:

    How do you use manual setting for your macro?

  4. Angie Andrews says:

    Amy why do people take photos of stars and call them macro? You can’t have a 1:1 ratio of astronomy photos. or can you?

    • I think they are getting confused with macro meaning “big”. In photography terms macro means to enlarge something to a lifelike size. With astro photography you can’t actually enlarge a star to a lifelike size, it’s just not possible because a star can be hundreds of thousands of times bigger than the Earth.

  5. Paul says:

    Thank you for a terrific article. I was wondering if the flower icon on my Casio is the same as macro. What does that mean?

  6. Laurie says:

    I enjoyed your article thank you.

  7. Yana says:

    A well written article, thank you and blessings to you and your family.

  8. Gary says:

    How does a keen imagination make your macro photos better? I dont get it,sounds a little airy fairy to me!

    • That’s ok Gary :) What I mean is that you must first plan in your mind what you want to see. Imagining it first will give you a great advatnage over your photos because you already know what you want. Kind of like getting in the car and imagine what road you are going to drive down to get to your final destination. Photography is no different.

  9. Sally says:

    Dear Amy

    I am 14 years old and desperate to take better macro photos. I spend hours taking loads of shots of insects etc. I have been saving up for ages for the right camera but simply don’t know enough to make a good decision. I have a maximum of £400 but would rather spend less. I had been looking at the Canon SX30 IS but have been told the Nikon P500 is better. I am getting more and more confused and just want to get going. I don’t want just a point and shoot because I want to experiment with manual controls but I don’t think I am ready for a DSLR yet. Can you advise me in any way? Macro insects are what I want to photograph. Thank you very much.

    • Hi Sally,

      It’s wonderful to hear that you are getting into photography and really love macro. You can get hours of fun and enjoyment from it. In my honest opinion I would suggest to spend more time investigating your lens rather than your camera. Cameras are important, but for sharpness and that “wow” factor, the lens is where you get the optical quality.

      I have a few cameras and I can shove my L series canon lens on any of them and each photo turns out as sharp as the last. Once I place the crappy lenses back on the camera, the photos are not as good. So it’s all about your lens.

      Your lens and your light are paramount.

      And if you want help with your photography in general, head on over to my site and check it out. I can help you personally much more effectively.

      Happy shooting!

      • Dawn says:

        I know exactly what dilemma you are in Sally and I am 58 yrs old :). I also have limited funds available to use on equipment. I have bought myself a Canon EOS 450D, after making a previous bad buy on a Samsung Pro815. I say bad buy on the Samsung as, I did not know enough at the time to know it was going to be a bad buy *for me*, it was “not” what I wanted. But I now think I have just bought another lemon as I am told the L series lens on the Canon 450D is not really any good?? something to do with not having a full frame???. I would like to get into Landscape Photography. So I do see your dilemma. I wish there was some place that could really help folk like us choose what we really are looking for as the technical stuff that get thrown at one when one is trying to buy is really confusing, I agree.

  10. Great article. Lots of great information. Thanks Amy.

  11. David says:

    Thanks Amy, great info.

  12. Barbara says:

    Hi Amy, What lens is good to use?

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