Up close......

Last month I was really focused on macro photography as I prepared a talk for the Bishops Stortford Beekeepers. As June has progressed I have seen more and more bees of all types in the garden - especially the bumble bees on a flowering shrub! The air is full of happy buzzing!

Bumble bee captured on an iPhone 8+ using the macro mode of the Camera+ app

Macro photography has always been something I love to do. Usually it’s a natural subject - flowers, leaves etc. and my neighbours are now used to seeing me lying on the ground in my garden!

I also use the technique in my heritage work when photographing very tiny objects or the client wants really detailed shots.

I find macro photography quite meditative - whilst I am doing it the rest of the world disappears from view as I explore the centre of a flower, the structure of leaves, a spiders web covered with water droplets or ice and snow. I notice things about the subject I may not have noticed before - colours, patterns, textures. It quite literally makes me (and my brain) - stop.

Macro equipment can be expensive. But there are lots of other options if you want to try macro photography for yourself:

  • Try macro or close up mode first on your camera or smartphone (you will have to download an app to let you do this on a phone camera)

  • Try some close up lenses - these screw onto the front of your lens. Usually sold in sets they can be stacked for a greater magnification effect.

  • Try extension tubes - these attach to your camera between the camera body and the lens. This has the effect of turning your lens into a macro type lens

All of these enable you to focus much closer to your subject then you can otherwise. They will not produce the same quality as a macro lens will but they are a cost effective means of trying the technique first.

Macro photography will enhance the depth of field within your images enabling you to blur backgrounds out to make your subject really stand out in the image. I also like to play with manual focusing to get interesting drift of focus effects in the images - they can look almost painterly as a result.

As summer approaches I am looking forward to some slow photography finding the little details of the world around me.

Watch out for my new workshop - An Intro to Macro Photography coming in the autumn!

This blog is based on an article published in The Flyer magazine in June 2018

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All images © Sarah Holmes 2021 No reproduction without prior permission.