Up close and personal (with a butterfly)

October 13, 2009
Up close and personal (with a butterfly)

1/30sec @ f/5.6
55mm, ISO400, 0ev
Evaluative Metering
No flash
Nikon D40
AF-S 18-55mm 3.5-5.6

Macro photography is defined as close-up photography, more than that it has a technical definition which makes it hard to produce true macro photography without specific equipment. The definition states that to be macro photography the image projected on the film plane (digital sensor in this case) must be the same size as the subject. This is called a 1:1 reproduction ratio. This is a technical definition and the lines can be blurred a little when talking about close-up photography so we can call anything between 1:4 and 1:1 a macro photograph. The lens I took this shot with has a maximum reproduction ratio of 1/3.2 but it also has a minimum focus range of 0.28 metres. For the price of the lens this spec is extremely good and proves that you don’t need to buy top of the range gear to produce pseudo macro photographs.

One important technique with macro photography is to get as close as is physically possible without disturbing the subject. You also need to be extremely comfortable with the depth of field characteristics of your lens at different apertures. When you are this close to a subject, the smallest of movement can ruin your depth of field and render the subject out of focus or worse the wrong part of the subject in focus and the right part out of focus. If you are photographing a subject with eyes, make sure these are in focus – this is the same with any photograph not just macro. Using a tripod that has a reversible centre column is great for getting closer to ground based subjects. Using any tripod is usually going to produce better results than hand holding. A cable or remote shutter release is also an excellent idea. If you are using a D-SLR that has live-view it can be useful to zoom in using the LCD screen to check focus. People using point and shoots are used to this as they usually only have an LCD view.