How do you get those great Macro photos?

It is that time of year again! The flowers are blooming, the bees are buzzing, and the temp is upwards of 90o. That can only mean one thing: macros of flowers and bugs. Here are a few tips on how to get some amazing macro photos:

1.      Use a low (number) aperture, and use aperture priority. – The lower your depth of field, the more interesting the shot. Don’t worry if you don’t have a dedicated macro lens. You can get similar results with other prime lenses, macro filters or using extension tubes.

2.      Use a tripod. – With a shallow depth of field, even the slightest movement can change your focus. Save yourself the frustration, and use a tripod for better stabilization.

3.      Composition – Flowers look plain if they are smack dab in the middle of the photo. To get more interesting and dynamic photos, move the subject to one side or the other.

4.      Use a flash. – Even if you are outside, when you are this close to the subject, you are losing light. Use a flash to add light back in.

5.      50mm vs 100/105mm macro lens – Either of these lenses can work for macro photography (as well as the 60 or 85mm options). Which lens is better is up to you and your artistic preference. The higher the focal length, the more magnification you get when you are the same distance away from the subject.






Sarracenia purpurea subsp. venosa Sarraceniaceae



Advanced Technique: Photo stacking/focus stacking

If you have been doing macro for a while and would like to mix things up a bit, try this fun challenge. Using the smallest aperture for your lens, take multiple photos with different points of focus. Combine all of these photos in Photoshop to get a finished product in which your entire subject is in focus, and the background is still blurred. Looks amazing on insects!

Photo stacking in Photoshop
1.      Combine the separate images into one document with multiple layers.

2.      Then go to “Select” à “All Layers.”

3.      Go to “Edit” à “Auto-Align Layers.” The alignment option should be “Auto.”

4.      Go to “Layer” à “Smart Objects” à “Convert to Smart Object.”

5.      Finally, go to “Layer” à “Smart Objects” again. Then select “Stack Mode” and pick which stacking mode you want to use from the submenu.

… And what better place to try out these tips than at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, voted one of the top ten gardens in the world, or the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House!


-Dan Brown, Crestwood Store