Introduction to Macro Photography: Taking Close Up Photos of Objects and Animals
Macro photography is about taking close up pictures of anything. There is no formal definition of what close up means, but generally it requires that the lens be able to focus on subjects just a few inches away.
Different types of macro lens offer different capabilities. Many modern compact digital cameras include a macro mode which allows close up photography up to 1cm or less than half an inch from from the lens.
Macro is frequently used when taking photos of flowers or other small, static objects, but it has a wide variety of other applications.
Equipment Required for Macro Photography
Taking good quality macro photographs requires a lens capable of focusing on objects within a few inches. Dedicated macro lenses are available for SLR cameras, both film and digital. Many compact digital cameras, which have a single lens, have a macro mode. This is usually indicated by a tulip symbol.
Experienced photographers will talk about macro in terms of magnification, with the ideal standard being 1:1 magnification. What this means is that the image on the film or sensor within the camera is the same size as the object itself.
One way of explaining this is to think of photographing a postage stamp. The average stamp is smaller than the negative on 35mm film. If the stamp was photographed close up and the image on the negative was the same size as the actual stamp, that would be 1:1 magnification.
First Steps in Macro Photography
Close up photography is fascinating because it creates pictures which focus on the tiny details we often miss. Close up photos of flowers can reveal intricate folds and structures that, while not invisible to the naked eye, are often overlooked.
A photographer wanting to experiment with macro photography does not need to look very far for inspiration. Our homes are full of objects which, which pictured in close up, reveal a new perspective. Unlike other forms of photography, which required certain types of location or lighting, macro photographs can be taken anywhere at any time.
Plants, fruit and vegetables can be a great source of inspiration to photographers working at the macro level. Every flower is unique, even though they may look the same from a distance. Close up photography reveals intricate details and also shows up the tiny blemishes that usually go unnoticed, but which can detract from a high quality image.
Insects provide another rich source of subjects. Many are slow moving and are not easily disturbed by the presence of people, making it possible to get very close to them. Many people find them fascinating because they are so different and yet so familiar.
Macro photography is all about delighting in the details that make up the world in which we live.