Macro Photography Advice to Get You Started

Macro Photography is not my forte. I wanted to get that out there straight away. However, I do really enjoy trying it, experimenting, and having fun with macro photography.

I got a request to explain how to set up for macro photography in a controlled, pre-planned environment as well as a candid situation.

This photographer specifically asked about the Nikon MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S lens for the Nikon Z bodies.

In this video, I talk about some of the most important factors when it comes to macro photography in these situations.

Transcription was done by’s automated transcription service which means it’s an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain spelling, grammar, and other errors, and is not a substitute for watching the video.

So I got a question from someone in the community about macro photography, and I warned you ahead of time. I am not a macro photographer, but I do enjoy trying it out because the only way to get better at photography in general is to try things that are not necessarily in your wheelhouse. Hey, this has got Wyden. Kivowitz a storyteller with a camera talking about all the things photographers like you and I are thinking about. And today in this video, we’re talking about macro lenses. So I got a question from someone in the community. He was looking to get the new 105 millimeter macro lens from Nikon for his Nikon Z six. Now I happen to have the original hundred and five millimeter for the EF Mount right here. I’ve had this for years and I have had this actually for portrait photography, but the benefit of having the macro lens for portrait photography is that you now have a macro lens you can play with, for macro photography.

So the question I got was a little bit broad. And so I asked if there’s anything in particular about macro photography that this person was interested in learning about the reply. I got actually said how to set up planned photos for indoors and outdoors, with lighting and stability, the best settings, and perhaps more casual types, like just walking around. And, um, what would you do in those situations? Now? He also said he bought a, a focusing rail slider to Mount on this tripod and with a fluid head and things like that. Now I don’t have a slider. I’ve never had a need for a slider. So I can’t really speak about sliders. If anybody watching this wants to send me a rail slider for me to review and try out, I’d be happy to do so. This 105 millimeter lens is a VR vibration reduction lens.

The new hundred, five millimeter lens. We’ll utilize the vibration reduction in the Z body. So the lens itself should be a little bit lighter cause there’s less mechanics in the lens. And so there’s that benefit. You’re getting a little bit lighter of a, of a lens. Hopefully I’m going to confirm that. And if I confirmed, I’ll put a big confirmed text right here. I’m going to confirm the weight of this versus the new 105 millimeter. That’s coming out for the Nikon Z bodies. So what happens if I take this and I ask them to put it on top of my Nikon Z body, I have to use the FTZ adopter doesn’t mean I lose anything. In fact, I gained the VR from the body. Plus I can use the VR in the lens if I want at the same time for the added stability. But yeah, I had to put that on here, which means I it’s gonna, it’s go look a little funny having that FTZ adopter there, but it’s fine.

I’ve been using that for headshots and for portraits and it works perfect. So if you have time to plan a macro based photo session, indoors or outdoors, there are things like what was, what was asked about lighting and stability in the best settings that you need to keep in mind. Now the macro lens is onto the FTZ adopter, which is on my Nikon Z 72. And it is on top of a small tabletop tripod called the switch pod. And I do this just to emphasize the point that first, when you were doing macro photography, your camera needs to be stabilized. It has to whether you’re indoors or outdoors, you should stabilize. Now of course, we’re going to get to the whole casual situation in a little bit, but really you should be stabilized whenever you can preplan a macro photo. You’ve got your camera. It’s on the tripod and now your camera is stable.

It is not moving. If you are doing something outdoors, this is even more important. Cause now you have wind as a factor. If you are photographing bugs that are moving. If you are photographing flowers that are moving, if your camera is hand-held, you don’t have to worry about yourself moving. And we are human, right? We cannot stay perfectly still, no matter how hard you try, you cannot stay 100% perfectly, still 100% of the time. If you are hand-holding your camera and you are using a macro lens, you will see your eyes, object moving, whether you like it or not, unless you are on a tripod. Everything that comes through the macro lens is emphasized is enhanced. So that means the aperture, which I’ll get to in a little bit, but also your focus. You are going to see that focus shifting dramatically. I just said that really weird dramatically.

You’re going to see the focus shifting dramatically with a macro lens, whereas in a portrait lens, you won’t notice it as clearly that you will with a macro lens. That’s because you are literally focusing this close to your object at times, you know, if you’re inches away, a hundred percent of the focus is on a tiny portion of that object. A great example of this is there were baby praying mantis on my house and I wanted to photograph them. It was only a matter of days. It was a little bit of two days that they were on my house before they were gone. So I slapped on my macro lens on the FTC adapter on my Nikon. [inaudible] just, as you see it right here, but stupidly for myself, I didn’t put it on a tripod. I wanted to get it as fast as I could.

So I didn’t plan this. I just put everything together, went outside and took the pictures that I could real quick. And what was happening was every other frame, the focus was in a different spot and it’s because I was hand holding the camera, which meant that I was moving, sure, the bugs might’ve moved, but they weren’t moving enough or fast enough for the bug movement to cause the focus from shifting it was all me. It was all me handholding. This camera set up just like this. Whereas if I was on a tripod and I set that up, the only movement that could have been in play would have been the bugs, moving their heads, moving their legs back and forth, whatever they were would have done. First things first, get that camera stabilized whenever you possibly can. Next up is lighting. Yes. Like anything else in photography, light is extremely important with these lenses.

You need to make sure that you have more than enough light because as you get closer and closer to your subject, you’re actually cutting out the amount of light that’s hitting that subject that the camera can actually utilize. Now, this is an F 2.8 lens and the new Nikon 1 0 5 S lens, which is actually for the Z bodies, which by the way, does have VR in it. I was incorrect originally, but it does actually have VR in it. That also is a 2.8 lens. So the are basically identical lenses for the most part, except the mounting system is different. There are some benefits of going with the XE body with the Z lenses versus the EF lenses with the Z bodies. But, uh, for the most part, there’s very similar lenses. And that means that at 2.8, you still need a decent amount of light and you probably won’t be photographing a macro image all the time.

At 2.8, you might beat at four at 5.6, things like that. And again, we’re going to get to aperture in a little bit. So if you were outdoors, you probably have more than enough light, but you might want a small flash with a diffusion to add some pop of color, maybe a constant light to add a pop of color, something like that. You may want that you may not, but if you have a flashlight, the Nikon Nikon strobes that can attach to this or even be wirelessly triggered, then you had that TTL mode, which means that you can now work with the sunlight to aluminate your subject. If you’re inside, it’s even more important to manage the light with either constant light or strobes or flashes, things like that. Now keep in mind that for the most part, a strobe or a flash will produce a brighter light and actually easier to control light than a constant light to get a constant light that has enough brightness to make sure that you can have a, a wide open aperture or a lower ISO things like that.

You’re gonna have to spend more money than you would with a strobe or a flash to be able to do what you want. Now. I mentioned that the lens and the body both have image stabilizer. If you’re on the tripod, you actually want to turn that off because when your camera is on a tripod and is stationary, your image, stabilizer, your vibration reduction, your vibration control, whatever your manufacturer calls, it could start shaking and counter acting the stability you’re getting from the tripod thinking it needs to adjust when it really doesn’t. So if you were on a tripod, turn off the VR or vibration reduction, the image stabilizer on your lens, if your lens has it and in the body, if your body has it. The last thing I want to mention before we move on to the casual situations is aperture. I told you I wanted to get to aperture.

And here we are. Aperture is something that you should understand as a photographer already. And if you do not already understand aperture, I’ve got a full video that breaks it down for you. It’s a beginner’s tutorial to aperture and I’ll link to that in the description down below. But with that said, aperture is going to become even more clear as you do it with macro photography. If you were to take a picture of a person, you’ll notice the differences you’ll get with aperture as far as depth of field goes. However, when you do it with a macro lens that is enhanced tenfold, a hundred fold, every aperture change. Every f-stop adjustment is a major one. When it comes to macro, it means that one centimeter is in focus versus two centimeters versus three centimeters and so on and so forth. There’s there probably is a mathematical equation that goes along with it.

I can’t figure that out. But what I can tell you is if you were to set up a scene, which I strongly recommend to experiment with this, can you start at 2.8 and you slowly close that aperture to F 16 F 22 and things like that. See the differences that you get with a macro lens from what’s in focus on your subject. As you close that aperture up. Now let’s talk about casual situations. Those situations, when you’re walking around with your camera and your macro lens, and you just want to capture photos of a bird that’s on the ground, that’s staying still, or, or the lady bug that fell on your friend’s shoulder or, or we’re the flower. That’s just sitting there on top of the water. Perfectly still. Here’s the thing. Whereas before I told you tripod and to light it and turn the image, stabilizer off, all of that is reversed when it comes to casual, because you have a limited amount of time.

If it’s a ladybug that fell on your friend’s shoulder, well, that lady bugs going to fly away within seconds. Or if it’s a flower that’s floating on top of water, that flowers are going to get all soaked in. The colors are going to maybe start changing. Maybe something will grab it out of the water or you never know, right? It might float away downstream a little bit. You don’t know what’s going to happen when it comes to casual macro photography. First, don’t worry about the tripod second turn on that vibration reduction in your camera on the lens, because you are not going to have to think about artificially lighting. So you might have a slower shutter speed than you might want. And that means that that vibration reduction, that image stabilizer will really come in handy because you’re handholding and plus you’re handholding. So there’s that little bit of extra shake.

Let the, let the hardware help you with that shake. Now regarding lighting. If you have a scene that’s too sunny and you have somebody with you ask them to actually stand in front of where the sun is to have basically become a human shade, right? Let them shade the scene for you if you can. Or if you have something that can diffuse the sun, just hold it up and let the sun get little diffused over your subject. You might even want to bump up your ISO if you are at actually adding shade or if your subject is in the shade, because you’re going to need that extra light. And instead of risking a slower shutter speed or an opportunity don’t want mess with the ISO cameras, these days are so good that a higher ISO should be perfectly fine. So there you go. A whole bunch of advice for macro photography.

Like I said, in the beginning, I am not an expert in macro photography, but I do love dabbling in macro photography. Now I like to share two photographers that I strongly recommend you check out if you’re really interested in macro photography. The first is Alan Shapiro who photographs, flowers, and food, and he’s got beautiful words. So if you look at the page for the, uh, Nikon 1 0 5 S lens, the new one or five macro lens for the Z bodies that Alan Shapiro has actually been working with icon to test the lens, provide his feedback on the lens. And actually some of the images that they’re using in their marketing campaign for this new lens. The other person I would love for you to check out from macro photography is Don Komarechka because he is absolutely incredible. Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen for macro photography. He photographs things even like, like snowflakes. Yes. Macro of snowflakes. Amazing. So thank you for watching and I will see you in the next video.

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