Capture close-up shots worth bragging about.

Imagine you’re walking through a botanical garden filled with plants from around the world. You’ve got your camera in-hand and you’re snapping dozens of great shots – or so you think. If you’ve ever taken a bunch of macro shots that looked great on your LCD, but didn’t look quite as good on your computer or when printed, you’re not alone. For consistently good results, keep these simple things in mind when you’re snapping macro shots.

First, the basics: what is macrophotography?

In simple terms, macrophotography is close-up photography where the captured image is at least as large as the subject when reproduced on a 4”x”6 print.

Using Macro Mode

When shooting small subjects like flowers or insects one method of getting close-up is to simply zoom in. However, when you zoom in, you lose much of the background area. If you try Macro Mode instead, you can get a different feel to the picture by leaving the zoom at a wider angle.

Macro pictures that bring the background to life

There are two ways to take macro pictures with a compact point-and-shoot camera, wide macro and tele macro. Wide macro means taking macro pictures without zooming. Tele macro is taking macro pictures with the camera zoomed in. You should try experimenting with wide and tele macro shots see which method you like best. Click here to see a comparison.

When experimenting with macro shooting hold the camera as steady as possible because camera blur is a common challenge. Macro images can also turn out blurry because the area the camera is attempting to focus on is very small. When taking pictures of flowers in particular, focus on the center of a flower and, if possible, try using a small tripod or rest the camera on a steady surface.

Hermit Crab

TIP: When shooting in regular Macro Mode, the flash will usually fire. However, since the camera is very close to the subject the flash may be too strong and the image can appear overexposed. When using the regular Macro Mode you should consider manually turning off the flash.

Use Super Macro Mode to get super close

Using Macro Mode in many Olympus cameras allows you to move in as close as about eight inches from the subject. By setting the super macro mode you can get even closer to the subject. Because you will be able to position the camera extremely close to your subject in Super Macro Mode, the zoom cannot be changed and the flash is automatically turned off. Click here to see a comparison.

What is a reflector card? Should I use one?

A reflector card can be used to bounce light into the shadows of macro subjects instead of a flash. It acts as a soft version of a mirror. The card is held at an angle so light from the sun is bounced onto the macro subject. It is very inexpensive to make your own reflector card. An 8”X10" white card is suitable for most subjects. Many macro shooters glue aluminum foil to one side of the card (dull side up) for additional reflection effects. You can also try gold-colored metal foil to produce a warmer fill light.


Bonus Tip for Advanced Camera Users

Adjust aperture to help prevent blur
In macro mode the area that appears in focus is small so camera blur and subject blur are more likely to occur. One way to avoid blur is to shoot with a very high shutter speed. If you set the camera to Aperture Priority (A) mode and open the aperture as much as possible you can take a picture with the highest shutter speed that will ensure an appropriate exposure. High shutter speeds help eliminate blur.

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