TIPS ON MACRO STILL PHOTOGRAPHY

purple daisybush flower
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

* WHAT IS MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY?

* WHAT IS STILL PHOTOGRAPHY?

Macro photography is one of my favorite things to do in photography. To see a world that most people don’t really see. The close-up photos that show detail of things so small we miss to the naked eye.

One of the most popular things to photograph in macro mode is flowers (like that one above). There are several ways to take macro photos. Let’s go over them all:

  • Of course the most convenient way to do macro photography is with a “macro lens”. This is a lens that can focus extremely close to a subject, when in real life, the closest you can focus on a subject with a normal lens is 1 1/2 feet from the subject. You will notice the macro lens will focus down within an inch or three. All camera manufactures have a macro lens in their lineup, and may offer a few choices in magnification.
  • The next way to get macro lens, is to use a “close-up” filter set:
A set of close-up filters usually come in a set, like this.

Each close up filter is a different magnification to get closer to the subject. And the closest filter is the number 10. You can also add 2 filters together, to obtain a certain magnification. There is a problem with using close-up filters if you stack them is that the sharpness of the image is usually not sharp. That might be why they cost only around $20 – $30 for a set of 4. They are just not sharp as a macro lens, BUT, it’s usually not so bad that the normal eye sees a huge problem. Experiment with them and see what you think. I have used them with great delight.

  • The last thing that is available for macro work is the “extension tubes”. And that is also a set of 3, usually, and there are no optics involved, so usually you do not degrade the lens optically.

The problem that I know of right now with using extension tubes is that they provide the linkage between the lens and the body. But, they usually do not provide the linkage for the autofocus system. So, you would need to manually focus your lens through this device.

These are precision instruments and good ones (including generic brands) will run in the $50 to $80 range to keep the lens linkage working.

So, after reviewing these 3 ways to do macro photography, the macro lens is obviously the best way to accomplish your macro photos.

STILL PHOTOGRAPHY:

Still life photography groups several ideas: 1- Close-ups of items, and 2- a setup of posed items.

Example of still macro work:

May be a close-up of tree and nature
May be an image of fruit, indoor and text that says "phpierozullo hpiero zullo"

So the above photos are a combination of still photography / macro photography. You actually pose the items, and that is why it is called “still macro” photography.

Still photos that are not macro photos, look more like this:

May be an image of food, indoor and text that says "H AUTUMN Hello"
Photo by Annida Naura
May be an image of rose and text
This photo taken by : Stephan M. Schimmel is titled: LOST LOVE

So, in this particular blog, we wanted to focus on macro photography and still photography all in one. Posing subjects that are small, and getting close-up of the items and using the macro lens. Here are some more great examples:

May be an image of fruit, dessert and indoor
Photo by LuAnn LePage Thatcher
May be an image of flower

THE ART OF STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY !

Still life photography is not a dead art.  It is fun and exciting !  Here are some helpful tips on Still life Photography:

My wife and I were out taking pictures the other day of the fall leaves, the beautiful scenery, and we couldn’t help but think that you could grab a bunch of fall leaves, put them together in a special grouping of such, and create a great “still life photo”.  You know, still life photography is a wonderful art that is a fun thing to do.  You don’t have to worry about making people smile just right, and you have time to work on lighting, etc.  This can be a real fun art in photography.  Here are some ideas of “Still Life Photography”  that is something to think about:
  Wait a minute….. take a look at the many calendars that are out there.  Look at the many photographic images of food you see on Social media every day.   How about product images you see every day?  Huh?   Are we getting the picture now?   So, still life can pay big money if you know how to make it work right.  

Oh, you mean food falls in the category of still photography?  Yes it does!  Well then, that makes sense to talk about this.  There are a lot of photographers making money at taking pictures of food.  Here is another one that is considered still photography that you can make a lot of money at as a good still photographer:

Commercial products for manufactures.  Can you get the lighting just right?  Placement of product to show it off?  Do you realize how important it is to get this angle right, and the lighting right, and to make it look so good that people will want to buy it just because you made it look so good in your photography?   That is what Still photography can do for you.  There is an ART to Still photography.  It is used everyday in the real world.  And I wanted to address this in great detail.  Here is an article by a professional photographer, who makes money at doing this all the time and we can learn a great deal from this photographer.  Let me introduce:  AUTUMN LOCKWOOD.  Autumn will introduce to us her article about taking still photos.  And thanks to PictureCorrect for the use of this article:

STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS AND TECHNIQUES:
Still life photography has many uses. Perhaps you want to take a picture of a beautiful shell or perhaps take a picture of a product that you’re selling on eBay. Other reasons for learning still life photography may include selling still life photograph downloads at stock photography sites or to food magazines. No matter what your reason, still life photography is a great skill to learn.

photo by Rick Harris
Unless you’re photographing specific products or pictures for a magazine assignment, the subjects for your still life photography are endless. Despite common belief, still life photography isn’t limited to just pictures of apples and grapes. Even something like artfully arranged spools of thread can be interesting and visually appealing. Microstock sites like Shutterstock and iStock that cater to commercial users have a high demand for all sorts of still life, often of very simple objects, like a cup of coffee or a key.

photo by C_osett

People often times think of still life photography as a lot easier than other types of photography like sports or landscape photography. With stills, you often have full control over the composition and can arrange the inanimate objects exactly how you want them.
And sometimes, good quality still life pictures can be even more challenging to photograph. That’s because they are close up so it’s easy to spot imperfections like a blemish on a piece of fruit that would usually pass unnoticed.

photo by Samantha Durfee


Despite the challenges, using basic photography skills and the following tips, you can create quality still life pictures.


LIGHTING FOR STILL LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY:

Professional photographers usually use a soft box or a light box to shoot their still lifes. Although soft boxes can help out a lot, they still aren’t absolutely necessary to get good results as you’ll see shortly. However, if you do want one, you can find a softbox online or you can easily make one using instructions you find online. The purpose of these lighting tools is to provide even light on the subject.
You can also get a good quality of light by setting up your photo shoot outside. A high overcast or bright sky can create a natural soft box effect without having any of the harsh shadows.


COMPOSING STILL LIFE PHOTOS:
When composing your photograph, you need to arrange the objects in a pleasing composition. You should consider using classical composition techniques like the “Rule of Thirds,” “Leading Lines” or “Frame within a Frame” for ideas of how to best compose your pictures.

photo by Olga Filonenko


Artfully arrange the objects, and use your imagination. For example, if you’re taking a picture of an apple try taking a bite out of it to give it some added interest.
FILL THE FRAME WITH YOUR STILL LIFE SUBJECT:
When taking still life pictures, always remember that your subject should be the only thing that you see in your viewfinder or LCD screen. You need to remove any distractions or clutter from the background so you can have a clean and up close image.

photo by aotaro


If you have a backdrop or background you don’t like don’t worry about it because it can be easily solved. The light box or soft box will solve this problem, but if you’re taking pictures outside and have a distracting background simply place a piece of white foam board behind your subject and you’ll be all set. If you want a sharp image, make sure to use macro mode or you can end up with a fuzzy image. LOOK FOR A GOOD ANGLE: Instead of shooting from your height, hold the camera so that it is level with your subject. You should also try shooting from a variety of different angles. Hopefully you can start applying these still life photography tips immediately so you can start seeing a difference in the quality of your still life images.

About the Author Autumn Lockwood is a writer for Your Picture Frames.