macro digital photography
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- What is macro digital photography
- How to achieve "faux" macro digital photography without the need for specialist equipment
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Jargon buster - M is for macro
What is Macro digital photography?
Interesting photographs are often those which offer an alternative view or perspective upon the world around us.
Macro photography lets us see small things at a higher magnification than typically viewed with the naked eye.
Popular subjects for maco photography are insects and flowers, where the macro viewpoint reveals detail and beauty that normally passes us by.
True macro photography
is when the image is recreated at life size on the camera sensor. To
achieve this requires expensive specialist macro lenses or
Click here for more
info about true macro.
What is "faux" macro digital photography?
Faux macro digital
photography is a technique for capturing close up images without the
use of specialist equipment.
“purists” may not agree , I believe this technique provides a
valid alternative when specialist equipment isn’t available, or on
occasions when a “macro” style photo opportunity presents itself
that is is likely to be missed in the time it takes to set up for a
true macro shot.
A good example of this
might be if out shooting landscape photography with a more lens but encountering an interesting
subject such as a butterfly or other insect, that is unlikely to wait
around patiently for the photographer to change to macro lens and set up
tripod etc. etc.
Faux macro is
especially suited to display of photos on-line (or on screen in a
digital photo frame for example) where the lower resolution required
compared with that required for print, enables additional
magnification to be obtained via cropping the image without a
noticeable loss of image quality.
Anyway, I shall
describe the technique and adorn the article with some images
obtained in this way and leave the reader to judge if the photographs
deserve any merit.
Faux macro digital photography - technique explained
equipment needed for faux macro digital photography
You will need
- Any digital camera that
permits MANUAL focus. Ideally a digital SLR with a medium zoom lens
and option to set manual exposure.
The higher the mega
pixels of your camera the better.
Unlike with true macro
photography you will not need to use a tripod.
A computer with an
image processing programme – such as Adobe photoshop.
How to Set up for faux macro digital photography
Having identified the
subject you wish to take a faux macro digital photograph of, set up
you camera as follows.
Zoom to the longest
setting that the lens allows
camera to highest aperture and centre weighted metering mode. Move
the camera close to your subject and half press the shutter to take
an exposure reading. You are looking for minimum shutter speed of
1/500sec. If the metered reading is faster than this at the lowest
ISO setting, then adjust to a smaller aperture. If shutter
speed is slower than 1/500sec, increase ISO until shutter speed of
can be attained. If it becomes necessary to use higher ISO than 1600
– then if at all possible recompose the shot to an area with
greater ambient light or add light via a reflector. Note This technique
will not permit the use of flash to provide additional light.
Set the lens to manual
focus and then turn the focus ring to the closest possible focus
Set the camera to the
highest resolution that can be captured and also to the fasted frame
rate that is possible in drive / burst mode. If your camera is able
to shoot and buffer 5+ images in RAW format without the burst rate
declining then shoot in RAW. Otherwise, to maintain the burst rate
use JPEG format.
Faux macro digital photography - Capturing the shot
through the view finder (or use the live view screen if it is easier
to position yourself to compose the shot) move the camera close to
the subject until it the primary point of interest appears to be in focus. (e.g. for an
insect, this would usually be the eyes)
move the camera very slightly backwards away from the subject and
press and hold the shutter release all the way to begin the burst of
the burst of photos, slowly move the camera towards the subject –
trying to maintain the composition as best you can.
In this way one of the photos should be perfectly focused at the key point of focal interest of your subject.
This is much easier than attempting to hold the camera at exactly the right distance whilst you take a single shot. Especially as close focussing with a large aperture gives such a shallow depth of field.
Faux macro digital photography
the shot – option 1 (basic)
the images to your computer ready for preview in a photo browser such
as Adobe Bridge.
the images in full screen mode and select the two or three that
appear to be in sharpest focus.
examine these photos at 100% (i.e. one screen pixel for every photo
pixel) and choose the one that is sharpest at the point of maximum
focal interest. (e.g. the eyes of an insect).
the image in your usual post process software (e.g. Adobe Photoshop)
and crop the image as desired. If you shot the image using a high
resolution camera but intend to display the image on -line only –
then you can crop quite considerably to gain magnification without
significant loss of quality.
example. An image optimised for display on facebook needs to be
1200 x 800 pixels.
an 18mega pixel camera, the captured image will have a resolution
of around 5200 x 3500 pixels
if you crop your photo to such that the subject is occupying only
1200 x 800 pixels from within the original captured image, then you
are effectively gaining an extra 4 x magnification of the subject
with little or no loss of display quality.
The final cropped and enhanced image. No specialised macro equipment was used
Faux macro digital photography
Processing the shot – option 2 (advanced)
your captured images have shallow depth of field then you can take
advantage of a processing technique known as focus stacking.
all the images from the burst of shots taken in photoshop.
the all the images where ANY part of the subject appears in sharp
with the final image taken (i.e. the one closest to the subject) use
the move tool to layer each of the preceding images on top of it one
by one. (Tip select the move tool, drag the image to be moved onto
the tab of the final image whilst holding the shift and alt key and
you have all the images stacked upon one another, select all the
layers in the layers panel by shift clicking on the top and bottom
to - Edit / Auto align layers.
the aligning process is complete, go to - Edit/ Auto blend layers/
will seamlessly blend the images, merging them so just the sharp
areas are visible in the final image, thus giving greater depth of
field to the subject in the composite image.
composite image can then be flattened and cropped and further
processed as required.
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