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Tips and Tricks for Taking Macro Photos

Once you’ve taken dozens of pictures of turquoise oceans and majestic buildings, add another dimension to your vacation photos. Go macro. You’ll treasure the rich story-telling details of extreme close-up images. Shutterbug Angela Tague shares these tips for taking macro photos.

Select Proper Subjects 
Choose small objects with ornate details or patterns such as textured seashells on Waikiki Beach or tiny freesia blooms on the Gold Coast of Australia. Use the macro lens to examine and enlarge intricacies that usually go unseen.

Steady Your Shots
A sturdy tripod is essential. Pair it with a cable release, a camera remote control or a self-timer to trip the shutter and minimize possible camera movement from pressing the button yourself, which may cause blurry photos.

Limit Your Light
Shade small subjects with your hand or body to avoid bright, overexposed images. Indirect, natural light creates even tones and rich color saturation outdoors. If indoors, use a flash with a diffuser to soften the light or move near a window for soft, natural lighting.

Focus Manually
When documenting itty-bitty details, accurate focusing is critical. The New York Institute of Photography suggests skipping autofocus and using the manual option (with a live screen preview, if available) to bring the image into focus.

Get Close
Fill the frame completely to eliminate background and foreground clutter. Place the item of main interest, such as the beady eye of a gecko in San Salvador, near the center of the frame, or askew a bit to the left or right.

Adjust Exposure
Keep close-up images sharp by using a fast shutter speed, such as 1/200 or 1/500, in the Tv (time-value) mode if you are holding the camera by hand. When using a tripod, feel free to decrease shutter speed to 1/30 or slower to allow more light to enter the camera and properly expose dimly lit subjects.

Photo: Takeshi Otsuka/Corbis

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