Home Photography Ideas: Magical Macro Photos with Great Angles and Lighting Tips

Watch Video: Home Photography Idea: Macro with Wide Angles and Lighting

Seen up close, the world reveals all manner of details, colors and textures hitherto unnoticed. We can use an array of tips to improve these close-up details, and in this project we’ll explore a few of those options.

To begin with, we are going to experiment with different macro lenses at focal length. A typical focal length for macro lenses is around 100mm, but you can also find more unusual lenses like the Laowa 15mm f / 4 1: 1 wide-angle macro lens used for the snail shot here. It’s a crazy lens that’s a real challenge to use, but offers a captivating and rewarding perspective for close-up images.

In addition to changing our perspective, we can also experiment with lighting. On a bright sunny day, there’s a lot of light to play with, but it’s not always the best quality for close-up photography. We will see how to manipulate daylight with a reflector in order to soften and diffuse the harsh sunlight.

(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

We will also explain how to add your own lighting using a speed light. Like sunlight, direct flash of a speed light can be harsh – so we’ll use a small softbox to get more attractive results.

There are many other techniques you can use to enhance the wonderful subjects, details, and textures on offer in the world of close-up. From choosing the right opening to hunting insects and spraying glycerin infused water, we’ll see the ropes …

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The essential macros

(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

01 macro lens
A macro lens allows you to frame close-up subjects with a 1: 1 view, which means that the size of the subject can be recorded in its actual size on the image sensor. They come in different focal lengths; at shorter lengths, like the 15mm used here, the subject needs to be very close to the lens for true 1: 1 capture.
• The best macro lenses

02 Flash
A speed light helps lift your subject and bring out the colors. Fired straight, the flash may be too harsh – a small softbox gives more diffuse and natural light. Some photographers like to attach the flash to the camera with a holder, but if not, you can just hold it or use a holder.

03 5 in 1 reflector
This is very useful for all kinds of photographs, including macro. Held in front of the light source, it can be used to reflect light back into shadow. Alternatively, it can also provide shade when the sunlight is too harsh, and the diffuser panel can be helpful in softening the sunlight or flash.

04 Tripod
A tripod frees your hands and allows you to perfect your focus. Often when focusing, it is easier to move the camera slightly back and forth. A focus mount is great for this, but if you don’t have one, a sliding tripod plate – like the one on our gimbal head here – can work just as well.

05 Opening control
Your openness is essential in macro photography. At large apertures, like f / 4, the depth of field may only extend a few millimeters, so it’s often best to stop at f / 8 or higher, to ensure a decent area of ​​focus on your subject. . We are in manual mode at f / 11, 1/250 sec, ISO640.

06 Live focus
Using Live View to compose and focus your macro photos is often the easiest way, especially if your subject is static, as you can zoom in on the Live View display and manually fine-tune the focus. If your camera has a peak in focus, it can overlay highlights on sharp areas, which can be extremely useful.

Macro tips

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Diffused light

Diffused light (Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)
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Direct light

Direct light (Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

01 Spread sunlight

Direct sunlight is often a problem; as shown in the second image, it causes high contrast with too bright highlights and deep shadows. Often delicate, soft light is preferable because it more gently reveals the shape and color of the subject. With macro work, we don’t have to wait for a cloud or a shadow – we can create our own shadow!

A simple 5 in 1 reflector is ideal for this. By removing the reflector sleeve and keeping the internal diffusing panel between the sun and our subject, we can diffuse the sunlight without blocking it completely – resulting in wonderful, soft and even lighting.

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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)
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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

02 External flash

An external flash is a great addition to your kit when doing macro shots. In doing so, you’ll often want to stick to narrower apertures to maximize depth of field – generally between f / 11 and f / 22 is ideal. But that inevitably means you’ll need a bit more light, which the flash can thankfully provide us with.

But it’s not just amount light; flash also allows us to get creative with the direction of it. Using a remote shutter release (or sync cable), we can place it behind our subject for stylish backlighting through a leaf. However, too much flash can seem unnatural. For best results, keep the flash output low enough to match the ambient light you have.

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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)
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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

03 Drops of water

Water can be a great addition to your macro photos; the brilliant highlights and delicate curves it adds can really enhance flower photos. To get the look of a cool rain, we can just use a spray bottle filled with water. Also, try spraying the background plants, as the small drops will catch and reflect the light, resulting in beautiful bokeh highlights in the blurry background behind your subject.

If you find that the water is draining too quickly from your plant, try mixing it with glycerin. This sticky substance makes the water more durable and sticky, while producing beautiful droplets.

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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)
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(Image credit: James Paterson / Digital Camera World)

04 New perspectives

Macro lenses are available in all kinds of focal lengths. The most common are those around 100mm, but if you want to try an unusual perspective, you can look for other lenses, like the specialist Laowa 15mm f / 4 1: 1 wide-angle macro used here. It’s a super wide-angle lens, and to get closer to the subject, it needs to be almost pressed against the front element.

This can be difficult with timid subjects but, for more placid creatures and plants, the lens offers a unique field of view by showing both the subject and its surroundings. This sets it apart from other macros, where a background is mostly blurry.

Read more:

5 things to know before buying a macro lens
The best macro lenses: get closer than ever to your subjects!
Best ring flash for macro photography


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