How to Create Perspective in Macro Photography - dummies

How to Create Perspective in Macro Photography

By Thomas Clark

If you’ve developed your ability to find macro and close-up subjects and to spot their elements of interest, your next step is to use perspective to emphasize those things. Simply moving your camera in close to the subject and snapping a shot isn’t always sufficient for getting your message across.

You can learn to create a relationship between camera and subject that highlights your vision of a particular subject. Your perspective is unique, like a fingerprint. Although some subjects may seem to be over-photographed, good photography provides a story, and as long as the story changes, the subjects can remain the same.

One technique that enables you to have your own unique message is perspective — the appearance of depth or spatial relationships between objects in a photograph. Each photographer has his or her own perspective when creating an image.

The combination of focal length of your lens, distance to the subject, and camera angle determine your perspective. The chance of two photographers creating an image with the exact same perspective is slim.

When you create your perspective for a particular subject, you should do so with intent. Consider the following points when creating your shot:

  • Focal length determines how magnified a scene is through your lens. A wider focal length (such as 35mm) produces a wider angle of view, showing more of the scene and being less concentrated on the subject itself. Wide angles of view tend to provide the illusion of depth in photographs.

    A longer focal length (such as 100mm) produces a narrower angle of view, showing less of the scene with more emphasis on the subject itself.

  • Your distance from the subject (in combination with your focal length) determines how your scene appears on your digital sensor. The closer you get to the subject, the more detail becomes apparent, and the less surrounding detail is visible. Using a longer focal length enables you to get close-up detail from a subject at a greater distance.

  • Camera angle is used to highlight the area of the subject you see to be most interesting. If a subject says his left side is his good side, choose a camera angle to reveal the left side of his face in your photograph. The same goes for any subject.

    A low angle helps to emphasize the lower portion of a subject, or to give it an epic or heroic sort of look. A high angle emphasizes the top portion of a subject.

These three images show the same subject from three different perspectives. Notice how each image tells a different story of the subject.

This image provides a perspective in which the pearl necklace is fairly sharp throughout the photograph, showing a maximum level of detail, but a minimum level of depth.


50mm, 1/160, f/14, 200

This image uses a lower camera angle to provide more depth and show the necklace with a shallower depth of field. This perspective gives a sense of grounding to the subject.


50mm, 1/160, f/7.1, 50

In this image, the necklace was photographed with a longer focal length and more magnification. This draws attention to one single pearl, rather than the necklace as a whole.


50mm, 1/160, f/3.5, 50