Macro Photography as Science and Art - dummies

By Thomas Clark

Macro photography is a valuable scientific tool and an art form. It can be technical and beautiful at the same time, and can be put to use by all sorts of photographers.

Getting in close to a subject to reveal its intimate details can prove very useful, whether you’re selling the sparkles in a diamond ring or selling your own message of how rust and decay is the inevitable fate of manmade consumer products. When working with very small subjects, macro and close-up techniques enable you to reveal the details necessary to create compelling images that draw viewers in.

The image on the left in was shot with an ordinary 100mm lens at its closest focusing distance, providing the maximum level of magnification for the subject. The resulting photograph doesn’t have nearly as much impact as the image on the right, which was photographed using a 100mm lens with macro capabilities.


100mm, 1/250, f/9, 400 and 100mm, 1/250, f/5.6, 400

The subject really comes alive when all of its intimate details can be seen clearly. People aren’t used to seeing so much detail in small things, and providing that new vantage point can help to grab their attention.

Macro photography can reveal the processes of nature by giving viewers a detailed glimpse of a bee harvesting pollen from a flower. It can reveal tiny patterns in natural subjects that give an idea of universal order. A very close look into the rough texture of a kiwi fruit can give a viewer the sense that he could walk through the tiny world as if it were a forest.

Scientists use macro photography to learn from tiny subjects and to educate students about what they’ve discovered. The crafty work of artists can reveal tiny perfections and imperfections in items such as jewelry, clockwork, and spider’s webs. Water drops can reveal detailed reflections of their surroundings, creating the illusion that each drop contains its environment.

There’s a whole world of photographic subjects out there that you’ve over-looked, stepped on, and passed by. Take a moment to notice those things around you, and you’ll find that your own back yard is full of interesting photographic opportunities.