Focus on Details to Create Amazing Macro Photographs - dummies

Focus on Details to Create Amazing Macro Photographs

By Thomas Clark

You must pay attention to detail to create macro and close-up images with strong messages and visual appeal. To do this, you have to be in tune with the details. Look deeper into a scene in search of the the finer details, and determine how you can best represent them for what they are.

Ordinarily, you may pull out your digital camera and point it at the first thing that grabs your attention — the sunset, or the mountain range, or the pretty flower. Those things are nice to photograph every now and then but tend to become commonplace after a while.

Instead of looking at a scene simply for what it is, try looking at it for what it’s made up of. Pay attention to the textures, lines, shapes, colors, patterns, and other visual elements that exist, and notice the relationships these elements have to one another.

Imagine you want to describe a shoe to someone who can’t see it. Is it made of a smooth material, or does it have a rough texture? Is it shiny or matte, new or worn, polished or faded? Does the texture of the laces contrast with the texture of the shoe? Do the laces create a zigzag or do they go straight across from one side to the other?

Sometimes you come across a scene that seems to have no photographic value at all. But if you look hard enough, you’ll likely find something that’s worth photographing. Maybe insects are hiding in the grass or climbing up the tree. Perhaps a leaf on the ground has an interesting color, shape, or texture. Or maybe a small flower is basking in the sunshine waiting to have its portrait taken.

This is a very boring image of a seemingly very boring scene. There are no eye-catching elements in this photo. The light isn’t doing anything spectacular, and viewers might get confused as to what the subject is and why the photograph was taken.


100mm, 1/250, f/11, 800

However, this detail shot shows an interesting aspect of the scene that is unrecognizable in the previous image. Notice how the sunlight falling onto the tiny subject works together with the dark background to bring out the fine details. Four new buds surround the seed head, revealing the beginning and end stages of this type of flower.


100mm, 1/250, f/8, 800

Details can be complex or simple or both at the same time. If you’re on a nature hike looking for things to photograph, and nothing happens to catch your eye, try overturning a rock. You’ll be surprised by how much life and energy is under a single rock. There’s a whole world of activity beneath your feet, which usually goes unnoticed.