Disclaimer: I have only started learning macrophotography since last year. And have only tried two macro lenses so far. This tutorial is only a basic guide. I hope you will find this useful.
Hello everyone! I’m back again for another basic tutorial. Today, allow me to share with all of you one type of photography that I have practiced for a year now - Macrophotography.
In my previous blog, I have shared an Astrophotography guide. I was overwhelmed with the support and attention it got so I decided to publish my second tutorial which will be the first to my Macrophotography series.
Before the tutorial, let me tell you a short story about why I became to who I am now.
I admire photography since I was a kid. I can remember our film camera which I always get scolded for. I had played with it a lot that I wasted quite many films. My father was furious as we were not living too comfortably. Despite the earful that I received and minor punishments, I didn’t lose the spirit. I can remember the strong-willed little girl who begged her father to allow her to waste another roll of film! As soon as my father heard my plead, he took me to the shop where we had once went to - a Kodak shop. He pulled out from his ragged leather wallet a few bills and voila! a new roll of film on my tiny palms. He also took the developed photographs placed inside a yellow envelope. I then torn the envelope to unravel the photographs that I can still vividly remember until this very day.
It was a family photo that we took by ourselves. My father was wearing a plaid polo shirt while my mother was wearing a white blouse with navy blue lining on the sleeves and embroidered flower on the chest. I and my younger sister were both wearing the silk dress that our mother made herself. Mine was a one-piece dress with a ribbon at the back while my sister had a two-piece garment. And my older sister was wearing a sky blue dress with a laced-lining collar and a laced pair of socks. It was taken way back year 2001.
Unfortunately, we have lost most of our albums and other belongings during the 2013 7.2 Magnitude Bohol Earthquake, but I can still remember that photo and all the emotions I felt in my younger days are intact! It is indeed very nostalgic.
I value photography now because my father allowed me to make mistakes to be able to learn. He showed me that every photo I take can be a ticket to the past we can never go back to but can always be remembered!
Enough with the prologue, let’s get started!
Macrophotography is a fascinating type of photography as you get to see details of normally small subjects or a detail of something big. It could be an an insect, a leaf, a grain of salt, an eye, or a mushroom. You can name almost everything that comes in mind and it will make you wonder how does these things look if taken into a macro shot. And that curiosity is what lead me to this.
There are a lot of gears you may use and a lot of tricks that can be done as well. But for this blog, I used Nikon Micro Nikkor 60mm lens. Although macrophotography can be done in most mobile phones now, I haven’t done it yet. So for now, let me showcase my recent macro shots and how I took them.
The Eye: Indoor Macro
The gear: Nikon D5600, Nikkor 60mm Micro lens, tripod, light set-up (one).
The set-up: Put your light set-up 45 degrees from the eye, your camera right in front of the eye. If the the camera casts shadows on the eye, add lighting.
The settings: Bringing light to the photo can be tricky since the apperture must be narrow, ISO must be low, and shutter speed must not be too slow. All these mean the photo is not getting enough light hence we included light set up. Aperture: F/8mm to F/11mm. ISO 100-500, shutter speed not below 1/60th of a second. If these settings were set and the light set up was used but there isn’t enough light coming in, try pumping your ISO a little bit but not too much or not more than 800 as it will increase the noise or you may also stick to F/8mm. If it’s still not enough, then shoot in RAW and try to post process one photo. You shall see if it’s workable or not. If not, then you may consider adding a few more lights.
The Insects: Outdoor Macro
The gear: Nikon D5600, Nikkor 60mm Micro lens, Nikkor 70mm-300mm kit lens
The set-up: You can use a tripod for subjects that aren’t moving but as for insects it would be quite hard since you’ll be setting up your tripod a lot. You may also shoot handheld as long as you’re comfortably fine with it and has steady hands and arms.
The settings: Aperture: Use the widest aperture you can get. You will want the shallow depth of field to blur the background and give more focus to your subject. However, using this technique gives you very little allowance for error meaning your subject may not be too sharp if not taken properly. Use either manual or auto focus and compare which one is better. Auto focus is ideal as long as the focusing won’t take too long. One technique that I have been using most of the time is the use of my 70mm-300mm kit lens. Why? Because it gives me the bokeh effect I want plus a narrow aperture. Shutter speed: Use fast shutter speed to make sure that your photos are sharp. Insects can be scared away too easy so make sure you’ll be as quiet as possible. ISO: To avoid unnecessary noise, don’t pump up your ISO so much. And make sure to turn on the noise reduction feature in your camera.
The gear: Nikon D5600 and Nikkor 70mm-300mm kit lens.
The set-up: You may or may not need a tripod for this kind of subjects. But you will surely need one if you are to shoot intensely sharp photos.
The settings: Shutter Speed: 1/250 is good since you won’t really need fast shutter speed on these subjects. But make sure to not set it too low if incase an insect may enter your frame. ISO: Stick to low ISO for better quality. Aperture: You can either choose a narrow aperture or set it to Aperture Priority mode.
The truth is, macrophotography makes me appreciate little things. The patterns and colors unfolding by focusing on the details make me realize how small things really matter. I may be just a speck of dust compared to the whole universe but I am an important part of it. You are too.
This has been @nikkabomb saying, "Little things make big things happen."
Nikka Mededa, the author
I am an engineer, a mother, an aspiring photographer, and also a blogger. A workaholic mom who found its comfort through brewing coffee and making home-cooked meals. I write and read a lot but I think I collect books even more. And there’s nothing more fulfilling than finally ticking off the books my reading list. Hopefully, one day!
I really love to fulfill my childhood dream of becoming an author and so here I am, in my little corner in the blockchain. I hope you had a good read and check out more here ---> @nikkabomb. Lovelots.