Congratulations on the purchase of your macro photography gear—a world of discovery awaits you. Macro and extreme close-up photography are genres that truly foster a “new” way of seeing, and the goal of this article is to encourage those who own macro-capable gear to embrace the possibilities, to experiment, and to take more macro photos.
Get deep with me, people—the contracted world of macro photography is an ever-expanding, limitless abstraction. It is not necessary to seek distant lands or beautiful people to enjoy the art and craft of macro photography, nor is it necessary to purchase expensive lenses or complicated lighting kits. And as interesting and beautiful as they are, it is not the multi-eyed insect or exotic flower at the local botanical garden that intrigues me; it is the “everyday” items we find in our home, office, basement, or backyard that are material for the most interesting macro photos.
Yes, beware of a macro practice that relies on the novelty of a subject or a repetitive cat and mouse with the viewer; a curious and evolving perspective on the details of what surrounds us is fascinating. So, look to the colors in your garden but also in your fridge; say yes to the design detail on a car, but also on an ocean wave; and embrace the contrasty texture not only of old wood, but also of old skin. These are simple thoughts to start with, and remember, macro photography is comfortable with natural light, ambient light, or strobe, so experiment with light and shadow and venture to the backyard or down to the basement of your mind and let selective focus, homemade light sources, and the limits of your imagination help to create the most stunning macro photos of life’s little details.
The Explora blog is a wonderful resource for macro photographers. Check out Todd Vorenkamp’s article on rainy day tips for macro photography and our profile of Ruby Frei and her macro work in the kitchen. I even wrote on the joys and hardships of macro photography once before. There are also tutorials on focus stacking, tips for effective aperture control in macro work, and up-to-date macro gear guides.
And if you just can’t get enough of macro flowers and bugs, try to give those ideas a new twist, for example, in this series of photos by Allan Weitz, the host of the B&H Photography Podcast, who used extender tubes and wide-angle lenses to capture the beauty of orchids, and in this profile of Clay Bolt and his macro insect photography project called “Meet Your Neighbors.”
Please share your thoughts about some of your favorite macro photos from around the house and yard, in the Comments section.