Macro Nature Photography Basics
Subjects are endless in the field of macro nature photography. Plants, animals, rocks, droplets of water and shards of ice are all right there -- free for the taking. You don't have to worry about model release forms or renting a studio. If you become skilled enough, you could even make a living from your passion. Magazines, especially those that are science- and nature-focused, often use macro shots to accompany their articles. Whole calendars are produced each year featuring magnified looks at nature. Of course, don't forget about textbook illustrations. Companies that provide stock photos for a variety of uses are always looking for interesting shots.
Although some aspects of macro nature photography might be easy, such as finding a subject, other aspects pose a challenge, such as getting your subject to stay still. Experienced macro nature photographers usually have a few tricks of the trade, such as carrying a small bottle of honey to feed to the butterflies to keep them around and "posing" awhile longer. Some photographers even go to the trouble of bringing along dead flies so they can get macro shots of a spider with her prey. You can anchor blades of grass with paper clips so they'll stay still for a photo.
Lighting in the great outdoors may not always be optimal, and the lens extenders needed to get primo shots make the lighting situation even more dismal by increasing the distance between the subject and the body of the camera where the shutter is. The disruption of a flash may startle your animal subjects and may cause the lens, which is close to the subject, to cast a shadow. You may want to overcome this problem by using a separate flash unit, which we'll talk about later.
Depth of field is usually very limited in macro photography, which some photographers see as a plus. The blurred background may indeed cause the magnified image to be even more impressive. However, if the background is important, experience macro photographers advise shutting off your camera's auto focus and homing in on the subject manually.
The type of camera you choose and the features it has will play a big part in how your photos turn out. Up next, we'll look at two different camera styles and examine their pros and cons for use in macro photography.