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Article: Macro photography - tips and tricks for the perfect close-up shot

Makrofotografie – Tipps und Tricks für die perfekte Nahaufnahme

Macro photography - tips and tricks for the perfect close-up shot

Two blades of grass with bushy seed stalks backlit, a spider web between them. The green spider with long legs, through which the sunlight penetrates, guards its nest, while hundreds of small spiders crawl out of the clutch. Macro photography can surprise, show us the aesthetics and particularity of the animate world with incredible clarity and sharpness, and open up surprising perspectives. It invites us, like children, to develop an eye again for the small, fine details in our surroundings. Sometimes the details that are invisible to the naked eye can't even be placed in our everyday perception, and that's what's particularly appealing about macro photography. It is like an invitation to engage with the inconspicuous.

Small things in a big way: What is macro photography?

Macro photography usually involves capturing small subjects such as insects, plants, flowers, jewelry, textiles, food, watches and other objects in detail. By focusing on very small things and using extreme magnification, details and textures can be made visible that are barely or not at all visible to the naked eye. Macro photography can also be used in scientific photography, such as microscopy, to examine and image tiny structures and organisms.

In general, it can be said that macro photography is about showing something small in a very big way. The line between macro photos and close-ups is blurred, but the term "macro" is generally used for photos with even higher magnification than close-ups.

By focusing on a small section and using the special technique of macro photography, which uses as much sensor area as possible to capture a subject with as many pixels as possible, it creates incredibly detailed images. However, the craft of macro photography needs to be learned and beginners have to put up with blurry images and long photo sessions. It helps to think carefully about what equipment you need and what settings you want to work with.

Equipment for the best macro quality

Macro photography can be done with many different types of cameras, including mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras, compact cameras, and even smartphones. The most important thing is that the camera has a close focus distance, which allows you to capture the subject at close range.

In addition to the camera, an external light source such as a ring flash or at least a small light reflector is also part of the basic equipment of every macro photographer. In addition, as in landscape photography, a sturdy, stable tripod should be part of the package, which is also best compact and lightweight, especially if outdoor photography is planned.

You can also find the right camera bag for your equipment and everything you need to protect your camera in our Oberwerth Shop.. From classic camera bags modern sling bags up to noble photo-beachers and backpacks and backpacks. Of course you will also find hand straps and shoulder straps. Finest craftsmanship from the best materials. Feel free to look around and find the bags & accessories that best suit you and your equipment!

To be able to safely store the great equipment and to have everything with you for macro photography, the elegant camera bag Porto from Oberwerth is particularly well suited. It is an ideal choice for macro photographers who need to transport large lenses and many pieces of equipment. With its sturdy materials and padded interior, it offers the possibility for safe and comfortable transportation of your equipment. What's more, its timeless design and high-quality finish make it a real eye-catcher, too.

The right lens

Special macro lenses with a reproduction scale of 1:1 are ideal for macro photography. The focal lengths of macro lenses are usually between 60 mm and 105 mm and ultimately depend on the personal focus and the photographer's own favorite subjects. For example, if you like to photograph insects in all their details, it is better to go for a long focal length. It is more practical to avoid scaring the little critters by getting too close to them. On the other hand, shorter focal lengths are suitable for still subjects such as mushrooms or plants.

For professional macro photography, these special macro lenses, which offer high magnification and a low closest focusing distance, are indispensable. However, if you are just starting out in macro photography and do not want to make such an investment, you can make do with inexpensive alternatives.

Inexpensive alternatives to expensive macro lenses

Those who are not yet sure about their macro passion and do not want to invest large sums of money in good, but cost-intensive macro lenses, can try out some cheaper alternatives. So-called close-up lenses, for example, which are screwed in front of the lens like a polarizing filter, function like a magnifying glass that enlarges the object to be photographed. Although such a close-up lens is inexpensive, it is only suitable for beginners to practice and try out, because as an additional lens it reduces precision and ultimately worsens image quality.

Another inexpensive alternative to expensive macro lenses are extension rings, which can be screwed between the lens and the camera to change the closest focusing distance. This allows you to get closer to the desired subject and thus achieve a larger magnification. Alternatively, a retro adapter can be used to screw the normal lens onto the camera the wrong way round, so that it now has a magnifying effect. However, you should be careful here and work especially cleanly so as not to damage or dirty the lens.

Settings for macro images

Once you've decided on the right equipment and stowed everything comfortably and safely in your camera bag, you're ready to go! When it comes to camera settings, you should generally go for a high aperture number (f/16 or higher) in macro photography. This gives you a greater depth of field and makes it easier to get the entire subject in focus. Also, use a low ISO sensitivity to minimize noise and make the image clearer and more impressive.

Many photographers advise a short exposure time for macro photos to avoid blurring. However, if you are working with a good tripod, you should not shy away from longer exposure times, as they allow for a better depth of field and you can have a larger part of the image in focus. Sharpness is the be-all and end-all of detailed macro images, and it is best to set it manually on the camera and check it again and again by zooming in via the display. Also, the mirror lock-up should be activated as well as a timer or self-timer on the camera to avoid unnecessary shaking.

Be inspired by famous macro photographers

The field of macro photography is so vast and encompasses so many different options that it can be difficult for beginners to pick out what really suits them among all the many possibilities. To find inspiration and your own style, the works of celebrated photographers in the macro field can be a real help. These exciting images with vivid colors and a clear focus have revolutionized nature photography and documentaries in particular, filling not only the pages of prestigious magazines like National Geographic, but increasingly galleries and museums as well.

Anyone interested in photographing insects should definitely check out the collages of British macro photographer Levon Biss, whose "Microsculpture" series made him internationally famous. He photographs insects in high-resolution macro shots and combines them into large-scale panoramic images.

A great German photographer and biologist who was particularly fond of photographing freaky insects is Andreas Kay, who has unfortunately since passed away. He worked in Ecuador for many years and left behind an inexhaustible source of inspiring photos.

One should not suffer from a spider phobia if one wants to take a look at the pictures of the US-American macro photographer Thomas Shahan. He specializes in the fascinating colorful jumping spiders with their many shiny eyes.

Ireneusz Irass Waledzik is a Polish photographer who specializes in macro photography of insects. She has developed a unique technique of shining a special light through her shots of insects, revealing their inner beauty and details.

If you like things slimy, you'll love Alison Pollack's images. The California-based photographer, who prefers to work outside in the woods, brings to life the bizarre landscapes of slime molds, whose bizarre colors and shapes seem to come from a dream world.


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