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Heulwyn Roberts Photography

Food photography, how to get up close and personal with macro

First of all, what is macro photography? Macro photography is extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects and living organisms like insects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size.

Basically making small things look huge!

To get these shots, you can use anything from your phones to a point and shoot and up to a professional DSLR/Mirrorless camera. Whichever one you choose will impact the level of control you have with the image. So base your choice of equipment on the needs you have.

Here are some of my tips so you can start creating your own macro shots now.

Life through the lens.

Macro shots are taken by getting your camera up really close to your subject. However, not all lens allow you to get as close as you want. If this is the problem you’re having, you might need to invest in a new lens to get you that look. If you’re using a point and shoot, most of them are already set up with a macro option. If not, Moment is one company that makes macro (and other cool lenses) for your phone, and all camera companies will have several different macro lenses for your DSLR/Mirrorless camera. The choice of these lenses will come down to what focal length you want (something wide like 24mm, a more ‘normal’ view like a 60mm or more compression with 150mm).

Macro Lens

Keep your balance.

Setting up your camera so it doesn’t move eliminates the chances of camera shake. As you’re taking an image of something small, even tiny movements can ruin the image. Think about ways that you can balance your camera. Can you lean it against something sturdy, use a small beanbag under your camera to help level it or buy a tripod to really keep it steady? But don’t worry, you don’t have to get anything massive, something like a Platypod is awesome for smaller subjects.

Platypod

(Don’t) Shake it baby.

Turn off VR…no, not virtual reality but your camera or lens vibration reduction. This is a great feature if you are hand holding your camera to stop capturing shakes. But when you are using a tripod or other ways to stabilise the camera, VR can be detrimental to your images as it tries to search for shakes to stabilise.

Focus.

You might think autofocus would be the best thing to use, and if you are using your phones camera it might be the only thing you can use. But whenever you can, switch autofocus off and manually focus your lens. Many cameras now let you zoom into the focus point so you can really check what you are doing. And if you are feeling more adventurous, you can focus on several different areas of your subject and focus stack those images…but that’s something for another blog.

Focus 24mm at f8
24mm at f8

Focus 50mm at f8
50mm at f8

Focus 80mm at f8
80mm at f8

Use extra light.

Just by getting close up, you’re going to start blocking light from your subject. If you find this is happening, it’s time to getting some extra light onto the scene. If you don’t have any available then try opening up your aperture (say from F5.6 to F4), slowing your shutter speed (say from 1/200 to 1/60 or slower). Beware though, doing this will introduce movement when shooting a moving subject or the camera isn’t on a tripod. You can also increase your ISO (too high and this will start to introduce grain/noise to the image).

What next?

Now you have some ideas of what to do the best thing to do is go and try it for yourself. The best way to learn is to try it yourself. But while you are trying, if you have any questions about what you are doing, get in touch.

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