Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Macro Photography Tips and Digital Photography Reviews

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Meta’s Best Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

The Best Macro Photography Tips

Learn Meta’s Top Macro Photography Tips for Beginner Macro Photography and Close-up Photography on Remote Hiking Trails in the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains.

Meta typically shoots her Macro Photography Photos using a Sony Alpha 77 II, RAW, Manual Mode, Manual Focus, Cloudy White Balance, ISO 50. She only bumps up the ISO as a last resort to keep the Macro Photos sharp and Noise Free. Meta’s RAW Post Production Workflow is performed on an Apple iMac 27” using ONLY Alien Skin Exposure X3.

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The Exposure Triangle in Macro Photography

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - The Exposure Triangle
Three Elements: Shutter, Aperture and ISO make up the Exposure Triangle. An adjustment to any one Element, requires one or two adjustments to the other elements to Balance the Exposure Triangle. Your Camera’s Light Meter (Visible in S, A and M Modes) will indicate if you are Over Exposed (Too Much Light) or Under Exposed (Not Enough Light). The Shutter and Aperture work together to balance the Exposure (see Examples below). The Goal is to be Perfectly Balanced and Perfectly Exposed, having the Light Meter in the Center of the Scale.

How Aperture Size and Shutter Speed Interconnect

Think of Light as Water flowing out of a Hose and your Sensor as the bucket to be filled. The Hose Diameter is like to your Aperture Diameter and The Time required to fill the bucket is like to your Shutter Speed Time.

If you use a Small Hose Diameter (Small Aperture Diameter), it will take a Longer Time (Longer Shutter Speed Time) to fill the bucket.
If you use a Large Hose Diameter (Large Aperture Diameter), it will take a Shorter Time (Shorter Shutter Speed Time) to fill the bucket.

Aperture Priority Mode

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Aperture Priority Mode

In Aperture Priority Mode – You select a Fixed Aperture Size and the Camera Adjusts the Shutter Speed and ISO (if in Auto ISO).

The Aperture lives inside of your Camera’s Lens. It Opens to let in More Light and Closes to let in Less Light. The Aperture Value is measured in f/stops, like f/1.4 and f/32, which look like fractions.

Full Stop Apertures Values Aperture Sizes

Smaller Aperture (Left Side) f/32 – f/22 – f/16 – f/11 – f/5.6 – f/4 – f/2.8 – f/2 – f/22 – f/1.4 Larger Aperture (Right Side)
The Smaller the fraction size (f/32) the Smaller the Aperture Opening – Lets in Less Light (Left Side)
The Larger the fraction size (f/1.4), the Larger the Aperture Opening – Lets in More Light (Right Side)

Large Aperture Openings (f/1.4) produce a Shallow Depth of Field with Less of the Subject in Focus and a Blurred background. This is preferred for Portrait Photography where you want a blurred background.

Small Aperture Openings (f/32) produce a Wide Depth of Field with More of the Subject in Focus and a Sharp background. This is preferred for Landscape Photography where you want everything in sharp focus.

If you are concerned about your Depth of Field or the Blurring of your Backgrounds, you’ll need to be shooting in Aperture Priority Mode on a Tripod or Monopod.

Macro Photographers often use Aperture Priority Mode to produce the Widest Depth of Field when using a Tripod or Monopod.

Note: A Tripod or Monopod is often required when shooting in Aperture Priority Mode, because you have No Control over which Shutter Speed the Camera will select, so it can sometimes drop below 1/60th of a second, resulting in blurred or shaky hand held photos.

Shutter Priority Mode

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Shutter Priority Mode

In Shutter Priority Mode – You select a Fixed Shutter Speed and the Camera Adjusts the Aperture and ISO (if in Auto ISO).

The Shutter lives inside of your Camera. It controls How Long the Camera’s Sensor is exposed to the light. The Shutter Speed is the length of time light exposes the sensor, measured in Seconds or more often, Fractions of a Second. Shutter Speed Times typically range from a Fast Shutter Speed of 1/8000th of a second to a Slow Shutter Speed of 30 Seconds.

Shutter Speeds

Doubling the Shutter Speed from 1/125th of a second to 1/250th of a second will Halve the amount of light hitting the sensor.
Halving the Shutter Speed from 1/250th of a second to 1/125th of a second will Double the amount of light hitting the sensor.

Faster Shutter Speeds (1/1000th of a Second) Lets in Less Light. Example: Freeze the Subject for Sharp Waterfalls.
Slower Shutter Speeds (1 to 2 Seconds) Lets in More Light. Example: Blur the Subject for Softened Waterfalls.

Faster Shutter Speeds are preferred by Sports Photographers and Wildlife Photographers, where they want to freeze the Subject. Example: To Freeze the Wings of a Hummingbird, you might use a High Shutter Speed of 1/8000th of a second.

Slower Shutter Speeds are preferred by Nature Photographers, where they want to blur the action. Example: To Blur a waterfall, you might use a Slow Shutter Speed of 1 to 2 seconds, with a sturdy Tripod and Remote Shutter Control.

Note: When Shooting Hand Held, the General Rule is never shoot slower than 1/60th of a Second to prefent hand shake. This works great for small Prime Lenses, but not for Longer Telephoto Lenses, which are more unstable. Meta prefers to use the 2.5x Hand Held Rule, where you Multiplly the Length of your Lens by 2.5. Example: When Shooting Hand Held, her small 28mm Prime Lens would require a 1/70th of a second minimum shutter speed, but her small 100mm telephoto lens would require a 1/250th of a second minimum shutter speed. This 2.5x Rule works very well.

ISO – Not a Shooting Mode

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - ISO

ISO Controls the Sensitivity of your Camera’s Sensor Amplifier. ISO plays an important role in how Grainy or how much Noise you are willing to accept in your photos. Most Modern Camera Sensor Amplifiers can handle ISO Values up to 1600, with little or no noise being added to the image.

ISO comes from the old film days when it was called ASA. The Higher the ISO (Like ASA 800 Low Light Film), the Grainer the image, but the more sensitivity the film had for use in low light.

ISO Values

Higher ISO (ISO 1600) is More Sensitive and allows you to shoot in Darker Environments or at Dusk or Dawn, but introduces Noise.
Lower ISO (ISO 100) is Less Sensitive and allows you to shoot in Lighter Environments, like Bright Daylight or when using a Flash.

Note: Some Photographers ignore ISO and just leave it set to Auto. Auto ISO can sometimes result in your camera bumping the ISO up way too high to compensate for low light (like when shooting a sunset or sunrise), thus introducing unexpected noise in your photos. For better control over your ISO and Noise, Meta recommends using the Lowest Possible ISO that your camera allows, either ISO 50 (Sony Alpha 77 II) or ISO 100 (Sony Alpha 65), and only bump up your ISO manually as a Last Resort. Using Low ISO Sensitivity keeps your Camera’s Amplifier Noise to a bare minimum and produces much Sharper and Cleaner Photographs. You can also try using your Camera’s Popup Flash (set to at Lower Power Level) or an External Light Source like a Zoomable LED Flashlight or Sun Reflector to keep your get More Light on your Subject and use the Lowest Possible ISO.

Which Camera Mode Should I Use for Macro Photography?

This depends on which Type of Photography you are shooting, what effect you are trying to achieve, and if you are Shooting Hand Held or using a Tripod or Monopod.

Manual Mode – For Professional Photographers

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Manual Mode

In Manual Mode – You’re in Total Control of your Camera. You select a Fixed Shutter Speed, Fixed Aperture Size and Fixed ISO – It’s also a bit more complex to use because Nothing is Automatic. Manual Mode is recommended when using a Flash, for Long Exposures or for any Special Effects. Manual Mode takes a bit longer to take a shot, because you’ll have to dial in both the Shutter Speed and Aperture Size, plus set the ISO (Auto ISO is Disabled). If you’re not comfortable using Manual Mode, try Shutter Priority Mode or Aperture Priority Mode.
Meta Macro Photographer
Macro Photographer Gätschenberger

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Meta’s Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

The Best Macro Photography Tips

Meta hopes that you found her Best Macro Photography Tips for Beginners useful in helping you learn about Meta’s Magical and Miniature World of Macro Photography and Close-up Photography.

If you have any Macro Photography Tips for Beginners or New Digital Photography Products that you would like to see Reviewed on Meta’s website, please Contact Meta.

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“Oh Lord, won’t you Fund Me, a Sony Zeiss Lens?
My friends all use Nikons, I must make amends!”

~ Meta

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The top Macro Photographs featured on Meta’s Macro Photography Tips are available at Photos By Meta. Framed Prints available in Blowing Rock, NC at Rustic.
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