Welcome to Part 3 of this Introduction to Macro Photography. If you missed Part 1, we looked at what is macro photography as well as the basic lenses and extension tubes available for macro shooting. We also went through various options for keeping your camera steady while shooting macro photos. In Part 2 , we looked at 6 indoor and 4 outdoor lighting setups.
Now, in Part 3 I’ll look at the popular macro shooting themes and I’ll go over some basic macro composition for each theme.
Popular Macro Photography Themes and Composition
You can basically shoot almost anything in macro so I won’t go into the minute details of the “everything”. I’ll point out 4 common macro shooting themes and include some photography composition tips for each theme. If you want a more detailed look at composition, check out my tutorial on Introduction to Composition. Remember that the composition tips may apply to many if not all of the themes listed below.
Without flowers, this little planet of ours would look pretty dull. Almost everybody loves at least a few kinds of flowers. They’re colorful and they smell good (most of them anyways). And when we start doing macro photography, they usually become our very first subjects. I know that was the case for me. What’s also great about flowers is that they look good shot inside or outside. My top composition tip for shooting flowers would be the use of the rule of thirds. Ok, the rule of thirds is a given in almost all macro situations but I really like to use it with flowers. It adds a dynamic feeling to the image by leading your eye to the main part of the image. Have a look at these examples.
Bugs are small. So if you want some detail you won’t have much of a choice but to use a macro lens. You could even have fun using a super macro setup. What I love about shooting bugs is their unpredictability. It can be a fun challenge to get the shot you want when they’re flying or crawling everywhere. My main composition suggestion is to be at eye level with your subject. Bugs are often in grass or on flowers and even if you’re kneeling, you’re still not at their level. Try to be on the same horizontal plane as the bug.
Ahhhhh food. I love food. And I love shooting food. I haven’t shot that many food setups but I’m getting there. Not all food photography is macro photography but I’d say about 1/3 of what I shoot is macro. Macro photography will help bring out some details that you would miss otherwise. My composition tip is to use contrasts. By that I mean with color. Rarely will the props’ colors resemble that of the food. You need to put the food in the limelight and one way of doing this is to ensure that your props (plate, glass, tablecloth…) are not the same color as the food. You might even look at complimentary colors like red/green, blue/orange or yellow/purple.
Since we’re going in really close, it can make for some interesting color and shape studies. I actually think that creating abstract images is a great way to perfect your composition skills since to object’s point of reference is no longer visible. You’re focusing entirely on lines and contrasts. What I also like about abstract images is that it make the viewer think and question. My composition tip for this type of macro photography would be “simplicity”. Don’t clutter your frame.
I hope you enjoyed this 3-part tutorial on macro photography. Here are some more macro images from my protfolio. Enjoy! 🙂