Macro photography has been on my bucket list of photography genres to experiment with for a long time. Unfortunately, a good macro lens is not cheap and, since I have no use for it for my commercial work, it is not an expense that I can easily justify. However, I am a firm believer that when you make a living with your photography, it is essential to work on personal projects to keep your passion alive and fresh. Just like the fish eye lens, the macro lens is the perfect toy for any photographer. I received one for my birthday last spring and my adventure into the world of macro discoveries and challenges began.
Like many photographers, I concentrated first on capturing macro images of flowers and insects. I enjoyed it and learned a lot, but quickly realized I wanted to try other things. Besides, there is snow cover for four to five months a year where I live, so opportunities for outdoor macro photography are limited. I decided to step up my macro photography efforts and experiment with other shots.
There are many great macro tutorials available online, but I enjoy creating my own experiments and learning that way. Part of the fun for me is figuring out the setting that will get the right shot. I also prefer looking at pictures over tutorials for inspiration. Most online tutorials give away the exact settings you need to get a particular shot. What’s the point of that? They may be a good place to start, but you will have more fun and learn more “off line.” Photography is a craft that is best learned by trial and error. To achieve real skill and experience, figure out all the settings by yourself by photographing those things that interest you. I’m confident you will quickly learn how to get that perfect macro shot on your own.
Although I occasionally shoot macro handheld, I use a tripod and a remote trigger most of the time. (You can also use the timer on your camera.) Keep in mind that macro photography requires you to shoot at a really small aperture (big numbers) in order to get the most depth of field possible. And the slightest camera shake will ruin your shot, so be sure to use a good, steady tripod.
What do I shoot with my macro lens? I still enjoy getting close to beautiful flowers, but I have found many other interesting subjects around my house. Once you start seeing things up close, you can’t stop looking for new things to shoot. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your macro lens. There are hundreds of fascinating subjects around you right now! Macro photography is much more than photographing flowers and insects – it’s a unique way to see, and experience, everyday objects. Put a macro lens on your wish list and maybe your own amazing adventure will begin in 2012!
Note: The photos above were shot with the Canon macro 100mm f/2.8 on 5D Mrk II