It was more than 6 months ago when I shared my first macro photography tips blog post. If you haven’t read it, be sure to do, since it’s my most popular blog post! Today I’ve prepared 10 new tips for you. While the previous blog post focused more on taking photos with a camera, this time I’ll talk more about tips that will help any kind of photographer, even if you capture your photos on mobile.
Macro tip #1. Place your subject in the shadow
When there is high sun shining directly at your subject while you’re out taking photos, it can create harsh lighting on your subject. While you might get good result from such scenery, for me – often the result does not end up in my Instagram. But if you cast a shadow over your subject while still having sunlight in the background (or choose a subject located in the shadow), the results might surprise you. It will make the subject pop more, and the background will create nice, shiny backdrop.
Macro tip #2. Go low
To capture photos with interesting angles, I say go low. Since people usually see all the tiny things from above, seeing the same perspective in pictures can seem boring. Capture the flowers and plants from the ground level for more interesting angle. For capturing animals, the best angle is eye-level, and in my opinion, so is for flowers (although there are no eyes 🙂 ).
I love capturing flowers from below/the side, and often you will see such perspective in my Instagram. Here are a couple of examples.
Macro tip #3. Build multiple layers
Having your subject on a simple blurred background often can seem boring. If you have a lens that allow shallow depth of field on your photos, try to capture flowers with other flowers in the background and foreground. Such scenery will make the photo more interesting and make the viewer adore the photo for longer, as there’s so much going on. See some examples from my feed.
Macro tip #4. Photograph against a light source to create bokeh
To have pretty bokeh bubbles in your photos, photograph against a light source. Bright sky with trees in front of them work great. If it’s sunny – that’s a bonus for you (as long as your subject is in the shadow).
As I mentioned in my manual photography guide, to have more shallow depth of field – use the widest aperture (smallest f number) and zoom in as much as possible if the lens allows. The more shallow depth of field, the bigger the bokeh bubbles will appear. Bokeh is simply brighter areas in the background that turn into round bubbles, so any area where the sun shines – will create a pretty bokeh. The sky shining through some trees is the easiest example I can give.
See some examples of my photos where I’ve used this tactic.
If you don’t want as wide photo and want to get more closer and macro-like, this tip can be used differently too. If you want to get bokeh in your photos on a closer level, spray some water on nearby flowers and position them so that the Sun shines right into the droplets. The droplets will create bokeh bubbles that you can capture in your photos. See examples of photos where I used this practice and created bokeh by spraying some water or shooting after the rain.
Another example is to use some aluminum foil and place it ion the background of your scene. If you shine some light on it, some magnificent bokeh will be created as you take the shot. Take a look at these examples:
Lastly you can use some fairy lights or Christmas lights that you place in the background. Doing so will create gorgeous-looking bokeh bubbles.
Macro tip #5. Add effects to your photos while shooting
Did you know that you can add floaty particles and bokeh in your photo without post processing? That’s right. You can spray water in the air white capturing the photo and have the water particles appear as bokeh bubbles (if you have shallow DOF available in your camera). Otherwise the water will look as dots or lines (depending on the shutter speed) if the depth of field isn’t shallow enough. See an example of my photos when I’ve used these tactics.
Macro tip #6. Change up your subject
I’ll continue the water spraying techniques. 💦 You can carry a spray bottle with water to spray it on some flowers or plants to get pretty droplets in your photo. No one needs to know that it wasn’t just raining 🤫 See some examples with my photos below
Macro tip #7. Look at the photos you captured before leaving the scene
Unless you captured an insect that already flew away, it’s best to take a look at your photos to understand whether you’re happy about the result, or should you take a couple more shots. Maybe the main part of the subject is not in focus, or something moved in the wind. Or maybe the framing isn’t quite right and you have to change up the background for a different look. If you want a good result from the scene, make sure you get it.
Macro tip #8. Crop your photos
You have to remember that you don’t have to make a perfect composition while making the shot. You can always crop and rotate your photos whether to get even closer, or change the initial composition and subject’s location in your frame. Of course if the megapixels of your device allow that. I crop in my photos a lot. And I’ve rotated, tilted and changed the initial composition I got with my camera often too. Here are some of the craziest examples on how my photos changed after cropping and editing them. Use the slider to reveal the before and after.
Macro tip #9. Use burst mode when shooting insects
It might be a matter of seconds from a great photo to a complete disaster if you’re capturing insects. They move out of the frame so quickly, and they might flee the scene before you get a great photo. That’s why I suggest you to use a burst mode (if your device supports such mode). Or simply take lots of photos one after another. You will have a better chance of a photo with correct focus and scenery. My camera is always set at continuous high speed shooting. That means when I hold the shutter button for a longer time, it takes multiple photos one after another. This has helped me to get the final photo lots of times.
Macro tip #10. Make sure all the key elements are in the focus
When capturing macro photos, you will have shallow depth of field. That’s why it’s important to make sure that all the needed parts of your subject are in focus. You might need to change your shooting angle to make sure that more than just one of the petals are in focus. Take a look at a bad example and a good example of the same subject in my feed.
Here’s a bad example with too shallow depth of field and focus on the wrong parts of the flower.
Meanehile here is the same flower (well, maybe not the exact flower) with correctly located camera to have more of the petals in focus.
To capture the photo with as many parts of the flower in focus as possible, you have to make sure that the distance from you – and those parts – are as similar as possible. If some of the parts will be further away than others – they will be out of focus.
Bonus: Search for inspiration
Instagram is full of amazing photographers, so you definetely can find users who post content that you want to learn to capture too. Try to replicate their photos and try to understand what they had done to get the photo. Maybe it’s capturing the photo on specific time of the day, maybe it’s the composition or angle. If you’re new to photography, inspiring and learning from others is the best way to grow your skill.
Inspiring from others is not the same as stealing their idea as long as you don’t copy the whole photoTake this in mind
When I first got my 50mm f/1.8 lens, I too inspired from people who use a similar lens. I still do. There is so much I still want to achieve with the lens, but haven’t gotten the right scenery or location. But if I hadn’t inspired from all those accounts, I wouldn’t have gotten lots of photos from my Instagram.
Did you already know all the macro tips, or did I share some new insight for you too? If it’s the latter one, you now can go out and capture macros full with new knowledge. In case you haven’t read the first part of my macro photography tips, be sure to read those too. Tap here to navigate to my most popular blog post 10 Top Macro Photography Tips From Me.