Macro Tips - Or what to Remember

Canon SL1 - Canon 180mm Macro - f/11 1/160th with a Canon MT-24EX Flash ISO 100

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If you have read every page on this site you will have found some redundancy and it is by design as the goal here has been to provide you with enough knowledge to go out and get a good shot of a bug and remember it (that is why the redundancy - your average person needs to hear something 3 - 5 times to remember it). So here it is again.

Do the 3 Days to Better Live Bug Photography

  • Learn your equipment, read your camera's manual and test your lens. Once you do you will find out it was not an equipment issue but a user error. Accept it and learn how to do better next time.
     

  • Pre-focus your lens and move into the subject, autofocus works sometimes but not always, when it does it is great you just cannot count on it and you want consistency.
     

  • Watch the bugs and learn some of their habbits. For instance bees usually move around a flower the same way.  So watch them and wait, many times they will move into a postion that allows you to get a better shot.
     

  • Focus a little behind what you want to be sharp to utilize all depth of field available. Keep in mind you will have a little more than you see unless you use the preview button. This little more needs to be used don't waste it on something in front of your subject that is not there.
     

  • Try to shoot your subject at eye level - a shot looking up or down is no where near as appealing.
     

  • Never forget you have minimum depth of field to work with - If possible move a little to the side and shoot at a little of an angle. Look at other peoples shots to see the angle they used.
     

  • The closer you are to the subject the higher the shutter speed needs to be (more magnification) and the smaller depth of field you will have - If possible move back a little and crop the image later.
     

  • Always shoot in RAW .
     

  • Understand that it is a usually a waste of time to shoot handheld on an overcast day without a flash
     

  • Learn how to hold your camera for steady shots
     

  • Learn how to shoot with manual settings, more times than not your cameras shutter or aperture priority will not provide the results you want so remember the "M" on the camera is for "Maximum Photo Quality"
     

  • Accept the fact that flash changes the game dramatically so learn how to use it - with practice it is real easy and it is the only way to get consistency.
     

  • Even with flash it can be hard to eliminate all movement so move the flash closer to the subject.
     

  • Remember that lens diffraction will start to appear, take a few shots to see where it is acceptable on each lens.
     

  • Find a setup you like and then use only it until you get good with it and then move on to something else I used to prefer a 100mm Macro Lens with a 1.4 tele-converter, now I use an MPE-65.