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Have you ever looked at macro images in National Geographic and wanted to shoot images just like that? There is a lot to learn before you can capture shots like that. Take a look at these tips on how to get your feet wet.
The image above was most likely lit by softboxes off to the side and above, in order to get that shadowless look and to bring out the visible minute details. Try to imagine the image without it—it would be very dark.
Stop your lens down to get your subject sharply in focus. Since I'm a Canon user, I've found this out by making mistakes using the 100mm F/2.8 L Hybrid IS. I recommend using a tripod to prevent camera shake even at faster shutterspeeds, because a stopped down lens lets in less light. The photo above was shot at F/11 at 1/60th of a second. You can see a softbox, which was needed for proper illumination.
Compose your images in an eye-catching way, with a background that isn't distracting. Because of the smooth background in the image above, our eyes are drawn towards the droplet. Inside of the droplet is a curious shape: a globe with people around it holding hands. Incorporating fresh ideas like this into your photos will make them unique. More on this later.
How about photographing a specific part of your pet? A new perspective on a common subject will always grab attention. Try different angles: shoot high, shoot low, shoot vertically, etc. Perhaps put your subject in a different environment to add contrasting elements.
Again, think out of the box. Making mistakes and experimenting is one of the best ways to start. Try playing with a random object. For example, take a small binder clip, give it stick on eyes from a craft store and make it eat something else besides paper.
Sure, this is a silly idea. But if you put it on Flickr, people will love it. Creativity will aid your framing and composition later on, when you try to shoot more professional photos.
One can easily say that the eye photo above is a reference for the eye being a window into the soul.
What tips can you offer beginner macro photographers?