Macro shooting was one of my earliest passions with a film camera, when the ordeal of capturing a small coin, bug or flower was a major project, involving a deep understanding of exposure and the effect of racking a lens far out from its ‘normal’ range.
If your camera of choice was not an SLR … forget it!
These days, even compact digicams can outshoot DSLRs when the lens moves in real, real close … provided your assessment criteria are not too critical!
Macro, as author Hallet explains, is the process of capturing a subject to a sensor film frame at the same size or 1:1; anything more, say 2:1, is micro; anything less, say 1:2, is closeup.
(insert Close-up & Macro Photography image)
The book helpfully gives a shopping list, beginning with a (digital) camera with an LCD screen of more than 6.35cm (useful if it’s articulated); an optical zoom of more than 2.5x; manual focus; a variety of manual settings. And, most importantly with fixed lens cameras, a macro shooting mode.
For DSLR users, the choice of lens is a challenge: dedicated macro lenses are expensive and not always suited for general photography. The interesting point is made that wide angle lenses, often overlooked by macro fans, are useful — thanks to their close focusing ability and enhanced depth of field. A negative factor can be that they often induce a false perspective.
With cameras that rely on an APS-C sized or similar sensor there is a benefit from the crop factor in macro shooting: a 50mm lens can then become a 75mm or 100mm.
For newcomers to the small world of macro there are many pages in the book that take you through other approaches to the technique: using long telephoto lenses so you can stand off from the subject; optical tele-converters that are placed between lens and camera body; CU lenses that fit onto the lens front but can cause image degradation; extension tubes or bellows that shrink the minimum focusing distance with no loss of quality but do introduce an increase in exposure time.
Overall, the book is a mine of information, touching on the choice of camera supports (tripod, beanbags etc), exposure and metering, choice of ISO, shutter speed and its effect on the final image, the role of depth of field, reading LCD histograms, focusing, understanding and controlling light, white balance and much more.
This book may be small at 18×14.5 cm but, in relative terms, the pictures are usefully large. The subjects are predominantly of plant life and very few of bugs and other critters.
A handy tip card is included that shows the various metering zones, colour temperature and the law of reciprocity.
IMHO the book is an invaluable resource of info and techniques. And pocketable.
Author: T Hallett
Publisher: Ammonite Press.
Length: 192 pages.
ISBN: 978 1 90770 800 8.
Price: Get a Price on Close-Up & Macro Photography by Tracy Hallett