Saturday, 13 April 2013

Macro- The World Beyond the Human Eye -Part 1

When one looks at amazing photographs from the world beyond the eye, there is just one question.. How was it done? The world of Macro is something that has enticed every photographer at some point or the other. Let’s try and get a glimpse into how it is achieved.

What is Macro? 
There is a misunderstanding when it comes to the usage of this term. To put it in simple language when you achieve a magnification of life size or above with your subject it is termed as Macro. Close ups are something that people consider to be Macro but usually they do not achieve a magnification of life size when photographed, hence technically they cannot be Macro.

So what are the different ways of achieving Macro?

Extension Tubes
Use of extension tubes is the most common method to take good macro shots. Today there are two kinds of extension tubes available in the market. Type one allow the camera to communicate with the lens while type two just helps you to increase the distance between the capture medium and lens. The former is the right choice since it gives you control over the aperture and hence DOF.

Reversing Rings
Usually dubbed as the cheapest way to achieve magnification greater than life size, reversing rings are widely available for different camera mounts and diameters. The magnification achieved via this method is stupendous but it has its own drawbacks. Most of the lenses do not have a switch by which you can control the aperture hence you lose complete control over your DOF, A few Nikon Lenses have this switch which allows you to control the DOF when reversed. The camera loses control over the aperture and getting clarity across the subject becomes almost a next to impossible task. One can use it to practice and get your hand steady when shooting macros; but for commercial purpose it’s a difficult prospect.

Coupling Rings
This is another method by which one can achieve extreme magnifications. Here one lens is attached to the camera while another lens is reversed on this lens using a coupling ring. One has the control over aperture of one lens while the reverse lens cannot be controlled unless you have an external gadget which allows you to control the same.

Teleconvertors increase the focal length of the lens by either 1.4x or 2x depending on the one that you are using. These can be used with various lenses and combinations above to achieve higher magnification.

Close up filters
This is one of the methods with which a lot of us venture in to the world of Macro photography. There are multiple types which are available in the market ranging from cheap ones which are about Rs. 500 to 600 (approximately 10 dollars), while the branded ones like Canon cost anywhere from Rs. 5000 to 10,000 (approximately 90 to 180 dollars). These filters allow you to get close-ups of your subject but usually fail to achieve a life size magnification. The branded ones give you a clear picture without any soft corners but the cheap ones drastically lack quality.

Macro lenses
The best way of achieving life size magnification which has sharpness, control over DOF and a perfect picture quality is by using Macro lenses. Again the question arises whether to buy branded lenses like Canon and Nikon or third party lenses like Tamron and Sigma. This a debatable question, but from my personal experience I can say that the Canon and Nikon Lenses hold a slight edge over the third party lenses. These lenses by itself allow you to achieve a magnification of life size. The only lens which is available in the market which gives you magnification ranging from 1x to 5x is MP E 65 By Canon.
The combinations that can be used to achieve macros are infinite; it just takes a lot of practice, patience and understanding of the science behind lens optics along with the technical theory of photography. When I say this I am talking about shooting actual macros and not cropping a photograph to make the subject look bigger.

Tips to get a shot without shake
a.       Always use a flash to freeze motion.
b.      If you do not have a tripod or a monopod or cannot set one up due to space constraints use your body parts to support your arms/hands and camera.
c.       If in your own backyard carry a stool with you, it comes in handy to lie in all weird positions to shoot.
d.      Try to shoot when there is enough light, in dark the shutter speed will fall immensely giving a shake to the picture.

This article was aimed at giving an overview of the equipment used in shooting macros. The technique and science behind actual shooting is immense. Maybe sometime down the line I will continue with the series to give everyone a deeper insight into the actual methodology.
Till then Keep clicking.. and subscribe to the blog for more travelogues and photography articles.

To see more Macro work done by me visit The World Of Small Things