Macro Week: The Joy of Macro

May 2, 2010

Photo Tips

[Editors Note: This week we are having a Macro Photography Tip every day, starting today, Sunday all the way thru Saturday!]

I love close up and macro photography. For me, this is about more than taking pictures. It is about entering a different world than we normally see. Kodak once did some research that said that most people see things at a distance of about 5 to 10 feet when taking pictures. The percentage of pictures taken under two feet is a small fraction of all of the photographs taken, so when you start doing close-up and macro photography, you are entering a world that most photographers don’t get into.

True macro is arbitrarily defined as photography that is so close to your subject that the subject is the same size in the real world as it is on your sensor. This is called 1:1 (meaning there is neither magnification nor reduction in size of the subject, although when you make any sort of print or use of the photo, the subject will be magnified). However, most photographers see macro as simply close-up photography and I’m going to talk about photography from being up close down to 1:1.

I think it is great that so many point-and-shoot cameras have built in close-up capabilities. Those cameras may have some limitations, but they encourage people to try visiting that new world of close-ups.

If you have a digital SLR, then you have increased capabilities for close-up and macro photography. As you’ll learn in the next few days, you don’t have to have a macro lens in order to do this type of photography. In fact, many photographers that have a macro lens sometimes limit themselves by only using that lens for close-up work.

My goal is to encourage you to explore the new worlds that close-ups can bring you into. Flowers become landscapes, insects become wild animals as exotic as anything in Africa, perspective and focus change, light can be magical at any time of day, and in fact, close-up photography can be a great way of photographing anytime and anyplace. While my photography has emphasized outdoor close-ups and macro, I have even shot at times indoors with carefully lit set ups for specialized macro work. Macro gives that flexibility and range of photography that can apply to almost anything that you’re interested in.

So join me this week as we explore possibilities of close-up and macro photography and things that you can do to help improve your own work.

For a continuing look at digital photography, especially nature photography, check out my blog at I am also on Twitter @robsheppardfoto.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 27 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

Rob Sheppard is the author/photographer of over 30 books, the editor-at-large for Outdoor Photographer magazine, and a nationally known presenter and workshop leader. His specialities are nature photography and helping photographers with digital technologies from getting the most from small sensors to Lightroom to Photoshop. Check out Rob’s websites at and

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