Winter Photography Tips: Shoot Macros

Lingering bitter cold with grey overcast skies can really put a damper on photographic aspirations (especially if you enjoy shooting lush, vivid landscapes). The solution? Try shooting macros!
 
If you can stand the cold, then there are lots of wonderful outdoor subjects that are likely very close by and just begging to have your camera pointed at them – icicles, frost and snowflakes, just to name a few. The image at the top of this post is from an herb garden on my front porch.
 
Black Peppercorns Macro
 
If you'd rather avoid the cold entirely, setting up a small indoor macro studio doesn't require much space. In fact, you could easily use your dining room table or similar [even smaller] surface. And there are tons of things in your home that would work well as macro subjects – spices (like sea salt, peppercorns, etc.), toys and flowers are only a few examples. And as Bryan has noted before, buying flowers will likely make your wife or significant other very happy. By the way, an off-camera flash paired with a small softbox makes an excellent tool for macro photography.
 
Dollar Coins Macro
 
Want a real challenge? Try your hand at shooting jewelry. With gemstones and curved, metallic, mirrored surfaces, jewelry can be an especially challenging subject to illuminate attractively (Hint: using several well-placed white (or other colored) reflectors can help accentuate jewelry's appearance).
 
Want to take your macros a step further? Try focus stacking (my technique can be found midway down the post).
 
Recommended Gear
 
  • DSLR Camera – Just about any modern DSLR will work just fine. One feature that can be especially useful for macro photography is 10x Live View as it can really help you achieve critical focus when your depth of field is very small.
  • Macro Lens (or Extension Tubes at the very least) – Check out Bryan's Canon Macro Lens Recommendations to figure out which macro lens is right for you (if you don't already have one). If you're on a tight budget, or you'd like to expand your macro capabilities, you might want to try using extension tubes to increase the magnification of your current lens collection (we recommend the budget-conscious Kenko extension tubes).
  • Tripod – A good, solid support system is essential for many types of macro shooting. A tripod will allow you to use longer shutter speeds while maintaining a sharp image. It will also allow you to lock down your framing of static subjects so that you can achieve the ideal composition.
  • Flash and Small Softbox (optional) – It's true that with a stable platform you can capture [static] macro images with just about any light source. However, a flash with a small softbox will open up many creative possibilities while also allowing for faster and easier image capture.
Shooting macros can be a fun and fulfilling activity when other types of photography are less enjoyable or satisfying. So be creative and have fun with small, everyday things!
Posted: 1/26/2015 8:24:16 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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