5 Tips to Better Macro Photography

One of my favorite memories growing up was when my family lived in Nollarmara in Perth in the 70's. We lived not far from Mirrabooka High school and at the time the land next to the school was native bush. I remember walking through that bush land, deliberately trying to get lost and then trying to find my way back to civilisation. My big adventures!

A lot has changed since then and the land has long since been developed. We only lived in Perth for a few short years as a kid but in my heart Perth was always home and my love of the Western Australian landscape has only grown stronger over the years.

It was really a no brainer when we decided to build our home a few years ago, to buy a block in the outer suburbs opposite bushland that won't be developed. I have the best of both worlds. I'm still close to civilization and I have nature on my doorstep.

Over the last couple of weeks we've had a fair amount of rain which has had me pulling out my macro lens on a few occasions, taking my companion Rolly the dog for a walk and getting back to my first love, nature photography.

There is something quite therapeutic about being out in nature and I have the added advantage of not having to drive anywhere to enjoy it.

So what tips can I offer someone who has invested in a macro lens and wants to improve their macro photos. Here are my top 5.

1. Use a tripod.

When you are trying to photograph fungi, flowers, leaves etc and you are as close as your macro lens will allow you to get the slightest movement back and forward or to side will have you focusing on a different part of said object than you want to focus on. So tripods are really important, keep that camera as still as possible. The closer you are to your subject the less of that object you will have in focus, even with the aperture set to F22.

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2. Take your camera off automatic and keep an eye on your aperture and shutter speed.

When you are close to an object with a macro lens, F16 and above will give you enough in focus in most cases to give you a nice image but as you get close you lose light which means your shutter speed will be quite long and the slightest breeze will ruin your image if the shutter is open for too long leaving your images looking blurry.

3. Use off camera flash.

If you can use off camera flash to add more light this will greatly improve your images. This will allow you to have a much faster shutter speed keeping everything sharp. If an off camera flash isn't in the budget there are some great LED alternatives that are reasonably priced. The aperture ALM9 can be bought at a very reasonable price of $65.00 through Amazon and comes highly recommended.

4. Increase Light sensitivity by increasing your ISO

If flash is not an option increase your camera's light sensitivity by increasing the ISO. Be aware though that the higher the ISO the more  grain you will introduce to the photograph. You could increase the ISO to 800 on most cameras without affecting the quality of the image much at all, no matter what level DSLR camera you have. After that it depends on the camera, some cameras handle high ISO's better than others.

5. Dew and Rain

Water can take your macro shots to the next level. I love nothing better than to go out very early on a crisp dewy morning to see what I can see. Spider webs look amazing covered in dew. also a couple of drops of rain hanging from a flower or leaf can add that extra glisten. If all else fails take a spray bottle full of water along with you.