Getting The Most From Macro Mode Page 2

When shooting macro, the depth of field, or area in focus, is very small. It's often not possible to have the entire subject in focus, so selecting the areas that are is critical. Examine your subject and determine the most compelling feature.

The built-in flash is too direct and harsh, blowing out all the detail in this piece of jewelry. Using an external flash, and bouncing the light off a reflector provides a much softer and even lighting.

One of the biggest challenges of macro photography is creating a well-lit image. The close proximity of the subject to the camera usually makes the on-camera flash less than ideal (or to be more honest, the on-camera flash is nearly useless). Luckily, there are some simple and effective solutions, and thanks to the flexibility of digital photography, easier than ever to do.

For indoor subjects, multiple light sources can be arranged to evenly light the subject or provide dramatic directional lighting. Small shiny objects, like glass or jewelry can be evenly lit by placing a diffusing material, such as a sheet (or even holding a piece of paper in front of the flash) between the light source and subject. When using indoor lighting, it's important to check the results in your LCD to ensure the white balance is correct. While auto white balance works in many cases, if you're using standard indoor lights you'll probably be happy setting the white balance to tungsten.

Harsh midday sun can create strong shadows and other lighting problems. Using a poster board, as done with the image on the right, eliminates the problems and gives a nice even light.

This is a great opportunity to experiment with bouncing light off reflector boards. Reflected light is much less harsh than direct flash, and much less likely to cause blown out highlights, or harsh spots of light in the subject or scene. Again, simple poster board available from craft stores can be used to great effect, and will cost much less than the "real thing" purchased from a photography store.

The reflectors made for photography have their advantages though. Available in white, silver or gold, they can change the warmth of the light being reflected. Photoflex makes a reflector that has all of these colors, plus black, all in one convenient package.

Just a few simple accessories can make a world of difference in your macro photos. My basic kit consists of a small tripod, a silver/gold reflector panel, an external flash, a circular polarizer, and a sheet of white poster board.

Macro photography can open up new worlds to explore, and best of all, in most cases it can be done with the equipment you already have. Most of us can find countless subjects around the home or yard. Keep practicing and watch your composition improve for other subjects as well.