Macro Photography For Beginners
What Equipment Do I Need?
- A DSLR – I usually use a canon 600d for my macro photography (Been replaced by the 700d)
- A Lens – The 18-55mm that comes with most DSLR’s will work great
- A flash – I started with one on eBay by Yongnuo
- Extension tubes – They are a spacer between the lens and the camera body to decrease the minimum focus distance – Get the middle of the line ones. You don’t need the Autofocus the more expensive ones have but I’ve read some horror stories with the cheapest – apparently, some of them get stuck on the camera
- A way to diffuse the light – see my homemade one in my macro video.
I made one with a plastic takeaway box and some cardboard, if enough people want it I’ll make a video on how to make one.
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The Set Up
You need to take your lens off the camera. Put the lens caps onto it, for now, they’ll come in handy later.
Choose which extension tube you want to use. You can use 1 on its own or stack together 2 or 3 to get closer.
Bear in mind that the more tubes you add, the closer you will need to be to the subject which may not be realistic. Insects/animals do what they want and they probably won’t let you get that close.
You now have a camera body attached to an extension tube and a lens, now what? Attach your flash.
If you have ETTL in your flash, great. Use that, to begin with and that will let you concentrate on the subject
If you don’t have ETTL in your flash, even better. You’re going to learn how to use your flash as well. Start at about 1/2 power. Too dark? Increase the power. Too bright? Decrease the power. Keep it simple
You’re all set up! Now you get to go out and photograph. I usually have my settings at around: ISO 400, F14, 1/200 seconds, change any of the settings to for your situation though.
Keep the front and back lens caps in your pocket ready for if you want to add/remove extension tubes whilst your out.
Take spare batteries for the flash, you almost always run out of power at the worst time. Speed up the process of swapping them over and go back to shooting.
How Do I Focus?
Before you go out, set your lens to manual focus and work out how close you need to be to focus on an object you have close by. If you can read the label on a bottle, that’s how far away you need to be.
Keep that distance in your head, get close to the subject and you will move closer/further away to focus. It will take a bit of getting used to
I find the eyes are the most crucial bit so I focus there.
Shallow Depth Of Field
I’m not a huge fan of shallow depth of field but it’s something you will have to get used to here. You often find the insects on flowers/nice backdrops so you might want to capture that detail as well. If it’s all out of focus (bokeh) it could be anything and all the detail is lost. It gives it a bit of a fairytale feel and that’s not me.
If you like it, use a wider aperture: F5.6
If you don’t like it, use a smaller aperture: F14-F16
What Time Of The Day Is Best
Early morning and evenings. Insects are cold-blooded so they move slower once it cools down.
You can shoot anytime though, it’ll just be a bit more tricky in the middle of the day
What Should I Photograph?
Anything you want, let me know your result by sharing them on social media using the tag #adamkappa . It would be great to see your results!