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Macro photography is getting a lot of attention these days. When you take a picture up close with your digital camera the macro setting is the one to use. Usually you can find this setting by looking for a little flower on the back of your camera. The flower has the letters MF next to it.
Macro photography can be a fun way to emphasize the main subject of your photograph. I love using the macro setting on my camera.
When I purchased my second Canon Digital camera it is the IS series. I remember reading something in the review about a super macro setting but it would be over a year after I purchased the camera before I discovered it.
One summer afternoon I was taking a picture of a tiny flower in my daughter's yard. I was leaning down very close and in an awkward position.
Something knocked me off balance and I fell just as I pushed the macro button and picture button.
In my effort to save my camera I held it with both fingers pressed till I was safely on the ground. I noticed an S come up on the LCD screen.
It wasn't till I downloaded those pictures onto my computer that I realized what I had done. The flower was exceptionally clear and one of my best shots ever.
You can bet I've played with that Super Macro setting often since that day. As the reviews pointed out, you must be careful not to touch whatever you are taking a picture of.
Yes, you can get that close!
The first image you see is a close-up of a pink rose covered in dew. I took it while visiting family in California.
In the next photo, I used a little photo editing to create this beautiful rose picture. The black and white background ads a rich touch, don't you think?
And finally with one minor adjustment in my photo editor this pink rose appears to be floating in the air.
When I first started playing with macro photography, all of the pictures I took came out blurry. They looked like blobs of color instead of the beautiful flowers in front of me. I nearly gave up on the whole process. But I kept trying, and today I would like to share a few of the tricks I learned about macro photography with you.
The main characteristic of all macro photography is the focus of your main subject in the picture. The background becomes blurred and the subject stands out in more detail. You can see this in the examples of rose pictures on this page.
Step 1 - Steady that camera: I am sure you have read that a tri-pod is a must have, especially in macro photography. If you do not have a tri-pod (which I seldom have with me) try balancing the camera on some part of your body.
I have heard the suggestion of the face. But I found using anything solid to steady the camera will do. I have used my knee, arm, a rock, or even just the intent of focus works.
Tri-pods are still the best method though. You can pick up a mini tri-pod at places like Wal-Mart or Target usually under $20.00. And the funny thing is if your camera is attached to a tri-pod you can hold it more steady even just by holding the legs.
But really nothing beats a good steady focus with a good sturdy tri-pod. You will be glad you took the extra time and effort.
Step 2 - Using LCD Instead of Viewfinder: LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. When I first got my camera I would use the viewfinder to take all of my pictures. This was a carry over from my film camera days I think.
Then as I learned more about the digital camera I discovered that my pictures come out better if I use the LCD display. This setting uses up the batteries faster but the results are worth it.
I have talked to some people who say it is hard to use the LCD because they can't see the picture. And I must admit that there are times when I am not sure if my shot is clear or not.
I wear reading glasses so, there are times when I don't notice that my picture is blurry until I load it onto my computer. But even so, using the display instead of the viewfinder at least helps me to compose my pictures before I take the shot.
Step 3 - Turn off the flash: There are a few things that are common in almost every point and shoot camera. The pictures on this page were taken with a 3.5 mega pixel the Canon Powershot A510.
One of the first things I noticed was that the flash distorts colors. The flash seemed to give an orange cast to my pictures. The best pictures are produced with a low, natural light.
While using the flash can give your pictures just the effect you are looking for, I wouldn't say it is natural. You can purchase separate lighting that will bring in a whole different look and feel to your photos.
But for that natural soft look that enhances the beauty of your flowers it is best to turn off that flash.
Step 4 - Step Back: I recently discovered that when the flowers are really tiny, the macro photography setting works best from farther away. So step a little back and zoom in to get the best focus on that tiny flower. As we nature lovers know, some wild flowers are amazingly beautiful when you bring them up close.
This step is where using the LCD for taking your pictures really pulls its weight. You can actually see your tiny flower come in and out of focus as you move your camera back. Take your time with this and eventually you will be snapping faster and faster. Once I realized the smaller flowers are better from a distance it became second nature to check my display for clarity.
Step 5 - Play with the brightness: One really handy tool on your point and shoot camera is the light meter. This tool is only available in manual mode with my Canon S5 IS. It is true that the most creative pictures can be taken when you have your camera set to the manual mode. Not all point and shoot cameras come with this mode though. My old camera was not as easy to adjust the light settings as this new one.
But even if you don't want to use manual mode to adjust the brightness of your picture, it can wait till you upload your photograph. Use your photo editor to enhance the photo to look the way you envisioned it in the park. They can sometimes even look a little better. I find that if I lower the brightness, and raise the contrast, I get some very impressive results.
Most of the macro photography examples used on this page happen to be roses but you can use this setting on any type of flower. I have even used the macro setting on insects, mushrooms, and a variety of other nature pictures.
Macro photography may seem a little hard at first but the rewards are well worth the effort. I hope these tips will help you to bring nature into a close-up focus. Enjoy those beautiful wildflowers, roses, daisies and more in a different light.
When you are using the Macro setting on your camera there is one thing you must keep in mind. The eye of your camera seems to have a mind of it's own sometimes. Notice in these three images how the focus was off just a little.
It doesn't take a lot to alter the focus of your picture. In these pictures it appears that depth of field got confused with macro doesn't it?
Sometimes the results can be fun to play with in a digital art atmosphere. But when you have in mind to take a clear picture of the flower in front of you it can be frustrating to upload your picture to find that the flower is out of focus and the background very clear.
Playing with the f-stop and aperture can correct this. My friend Amy Renfrey talks about that in her books on digital photography success. (opens in new window) If you're looking for a more thorough learning experiences I highly recommend you check them out.
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