Macro photography

Morning GloryOne of the pleasures of having a compact digital camera is being able to shoot lovely macro images without having to purchase extra accessories or lenses. If you haven’t had time to experiment with the close-up mode on your camera, do so. You’ll love it.

Macro mode enables you to get very close to your subject and capture its delicate structure. You don’t have to resort to enlarging then cropping when editing.

Let’s begin by making use of some of your automatic settings for now. Here’s all you need to do to get started:

  1. Select the Macro Close-up Mode on your camera.
  2. Select the finest image quality available (HI=no compression TIFF or RAW if you have them. If not, choose Fine (JPEG) and the highest resolution ( largest image size) available. This helps ensure you will be able to print your image at the largest size possible for your particular camera (this is megapixel-related) with photographic quality results.
  3. Unless you are clear on ISO values, simply use the Automatic ISO (sensitivity) feature of your camera.
  4. By the way, avoid using your popup flash at these near distances.
  5. Select the Programmed Auto exposure mode.
  6. Now get very close to your subject: closer, closer. I mean VERY close (within a few inches of your subject.)
  7. Frame your subject using your LCD monitor (not the viewfinder). Most non-DSRL compact digital cameras are effectually range-finder cameras. This means that there is a shift in view. What you see in the frame of your viewfinder won’t be what you capture so do use the LCD for framing!
  8. Carefully depress the shutter halfway to make sure you’re at an acceptable focusing distance for your specific camera, then take your photograph.

Remember: remain as steady as you possible can. At these extremely close distances and with large apertures (F5.6, etc.) you have a VERY short depth-of-field (DOF). Any movement on your part or on the part of your subject (watch out for that breeze) is amplified and will result in a blurry image.

You can avoid one of these factors by using a tripod or by bracing yourself against something solid (like a tree trunk or photo buddy). You can avoid the latter factor by asking the winds to cooperate or, if you’re adept at one handed shooting, hold a piece of firm cardboard at an angle to block the breeze.

That’s all there is to it. Have fun!

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