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Get Close With Macrophotography

written by: Claudine Baugh•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 12/15/2011
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Macrophotography is the art of taking pictures up close; the primary focus of this type of work is to bring to light the beauty of the microscopic world of all things great but small. It is especially popular with capturing the physiognomies of insects and other tiny creatures that live among us.

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    Female Ommatius Robber Fly

    Female Ommatius Robber Fly 

    This is a terrific photo! Ommatius Robber Flies aren’t something you see everyday, and people don’t really get to see the intricacies to its physicality from just the naked eye. With a combination of zooming, and rearranging the optics of your digital camera, you can capture the mesmerizing features to this fly’s form. Insects are always on the move, and get frightened quite easily, so it also helps to engage a bit of zooming from a short distance to get a still shot.

    Incorporating other surrounding objects in a close-up shot allows the viewers to see the variation in size of the miniature subject. See how by including this plant stem, you can see just how tiny this Ommatius Robber Fly really is.

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    Rain Drops

    Rain Drops 

    This photo exudes ingenuity to the highest degree. It not only captures the beauty and formation of water droplets on this branch, it also the reflects the orange and white petal flower from some distance behind.

    This shot may require a few attempts, so that the flower is reflected in as many of the droplets as possible. By adjusting the position, angle and distance of camera from the branch, you are sure to get the perfect shot. Also, a little help from Photoshop editing can help you to make a picture like this look even more incredible. Always use macro lenses and engage other macro functions like the close-up setting in the scene mode of your digital camera so that you can enhance such details, and improve the sharpness.

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    Mating

    Mating 

    Finding interesting subjects in an intimate position, as displayed here, is often the selling factor in a photo. It’s both fascinating and mesmerizing, all at once. You are lucky as a photographer to stumble upon this kind of drama during a photography quest and it makes sharing photos that more enjoyable.

    This photo was taken with a Cannon EOS 350D Digital camera under natural lighting. It took some significant zooming to get this shot, which is perhaps the reason why the clarity isn’t so sharp. Nonetheless, the blurring effect in the background and around certain areas of these two flies makes this picture very intriguing.

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    Taiwanese Coin

    Taiwanese Coin 

    Capturing certain signature details on foreign currencies is pretty interesting, as it can be informative and artistic while making a great photo. This is a basic shot, and is quite easy to achieve. Once you have adequate lighting, simply adjust your camera settings to taking close up pictures. Then, you basically aim from an appropriate distance and snap away. Take as many shots as you want - you never know which will be the winning photo. By capturing the entire border, as well as different sides and angles of a coin similar to the way this Taiwanese $10 was taken, you can get a series of terrific photos.

    *Note - The close-up setting on digital cameras is generally indicated by a symbol or icon of a flower.

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    Praying Mantis Doing Gymnastics

    Praying Mantis Doing Gymnastics 

    Here is a Praying Mantis going about his day as he strikes a pose in this peculiar gesture. There is no telling what he is up to, but it sure makes a terrific shot. Despite the excess of green coloration, there are specific details that make this picture exceptional. Check out the shadowing on the leaf created by its legs and hind area, plus a close up look at some distinctive features like his antenna, jagged forelegs, bulging eyes and leaf-like surface texture.

    By adjusting the aperture setting on your digital camera to Priority Mode, you can stand at a distance and zoom-in on your subject to achieve a bit of blurring. This is demonstrated here in the background. This technique is particular useful to bring more focus on the Mantis, especially that the green colors of the subject and leaves may potentially clash.

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    Ostrich

    Ostrich 

    Cute subjects make great photos, and what’s cuter than this pensive looking Ostrich? It may have taken a bit of role-playing and patience to get this focused pose from our friend here, but it was all worth it – this is picture is absolutely adorable.

    By blacking out the background, and throwing the light on the subject's face, the photographer brings a lot of focus on his hair-like feathers, lashes, beak, and nostrils. It also adds mystery to the eyes. The picture isn’t as clear as it could possibly be, so this was the best approach to take. We don't always get the opportunity to take pictures of animals and other creatures with the right exposure, focal length, lighting and such, but we can sure spruce up the shot to make it more interesting with Photoshop and other editing enhancements.

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    Love Defined By Diamonds

    Love Defined By Diamonds 

    To capture professional looking photos of jewelry takes a bit of setting up, but can easily be accomplished. A good camera and lighting are some of the key factors in getting the best shot possible; you can use fluorescent lighting and special LED bulbs to get a luminous sparkle in diamonds and gem stones, as seen here.

    If you don’t have one, create a housing similar to a light tent to soften shadows and eliminate glare while trying to create a subtle, clean background. Adjust your camera to the Spot Focus setting to get a focused and crisp, clear shot. You also need to get the right exposure - after all, you don’t want your jewelry photography looking too dark (underexposed) or washed out (overexposed). So you may want to tweak to an appropriate EV setting depending on the lighting you are working with, the background color and such.

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    Another Sundew

    Another Sundew 

    As is, this plant is a superb sight. The symmetry of its shape and intricate form is beautiful, while the surrounding greenery is spectacular. It is magnificent how the dew left behind from a shower of rain takes this photo to an even higher level of splendor.

    To bring focus on a subject, you could increase the distance between the background and subject through intelligent zooming, while at the same time keeping your subject relatively close to you. Macro lenses and natural lighting will also help to get the sharpness and clarity of the dewdrops and other details.

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    Just Hanging Out

    Just Hanging Out 

    Insects such as this little bee are very popular to photograph with macro technique. There is so much about their physical characteristics that goes unnoticed, we don't see half of their beauty - even at a third, fourth or fifth glance. So once we are able to get near to them with a camera, and take a proper close-up picture, we can see their complete make-up perfectly.

    To get a mind-blowing close up shot like this, you could try using macro lenses to get a magnified and clearer picture. This photo was taken with a Cannon EOS 350D Digital camera with no flash; the focal length was exactly 100 mm, ISO speed was 400 and the aperture opening was set at f/6.3.

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    Kiss Me

    Kiss Me 

    The close-up shot of this expressive creature shows a great amount of detail through fantastic lighting and digital zooming. In addition to his amusing pose, the colors and tone of his skin is intense and dramatic against the abundantly green background.

    Similar to most of the photography close up tips discussed in this gallery, capturing this picture is quite easy. The exposure was set at 0.01 sec (1/100), aperture at f/6.3, ISO speed at 200 and a daring focal length of 300 mm. There was no flash needed since this was taken on bight sunny day. Automatically, the flash would not have fired, as it would have overexposed this shot.

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    Qur'an

    Qur'an 

    Photographing text can seem like a task, but it is in fact quite simple. Once you know the adjustments to make on your digital camera, you are good to go. This particular example shown in this photo is Qur’an, which is the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language, and the central religious text of Islam.

    This photo was taken with a Konica Minolta DiMAGE G600 camera at very close range. By simply engaging the text focus or close-up feature on your digital camera, you can experiment at different distances and angles to get a clear shot. To achieve blurring you can slow the shutter speed, but for more control of the situation, Photoshop enhancements can go a long way.

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    Jumping Spider - Phidippus Mystaceus

    Jumping Spider - Phidippus Mystaceus 

    This macro photo of this Phidippus Mystaceus is absolutely breathtaking. The colors of this species of jumping spider are undeniably beautiful, plus the combination of this blue background and green base surface makes this photo certainly pop. Like other types of insects and wild creatures, zooming in from a distant sitting may be required.

    This picture was taken without any flash, an ISO speed of 200, zero exposure value and a focal length of 100mm. The dynamic colors and added clarity of its physiognomic details are courtesy of Photoshop enhancements. Depending on the surrounding colors, the eyes of this insect may appear to be a different color; their eyes are actually terrific color reflectors.

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    Ladybugs

    Ladybugs 

    This is such a lovely picture, its not everyday that you can see this many lady bugs in one gathering. It makes an extraordinary piece, and creates some mystery as to what they are doing and why they have all singled out this plant.

    The great thing about photographing lady bugs is that you can get as close as you want, knowing that they will not scatter away. All you have to do is get close and snap away -- it is the best, most simple way to engaged the macro mode on your camera and get a great close-up shot. This shot is free from any kind of tweaking; it was taken with a Canon PowerShot A720 IS.

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    Dew Drops

    Dew Drops 

    Once you have acquainted yourself with the art of taking water droplets at very close range, the next venture is adding creativity to your work. This picture demonstrates a terrific, yet simple way to get your macrophotography technique to pop. The close up view of this purple leaf shows a burst of color as the petal veins sweep across the surface area, and creates the perfect backdrop for highlighting the dewdrops. The variation and size of dewdrops are shown in crisp clear form so you can see their reflective properties. If you look closely, you will be able to actually see the photographer’s silhouette in the dewdrops.

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    Parasol Mushroom

    Parasol Mushroom 

    In this photo, by cutting off the exterior of this mushroom and blurring the extremities, the photographer accomplished a pretty interesting shot. It focuses on the stem area, where more clarity in demonstrated. Extreme zooming tends to give this result, but for a sharper more detailed look you may need to enhance with computer editing and modifications. The software used to do this here was Adobe Photoshop CS5 (as stated by photographer).

    This picture may seem quite dull, with the blandness in colors and such, but it makes an interesting abstract piece. At a first glance, viewers may not notice that this is an actual mushroom.

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