Why Use Macro and Close-Up Photography
Making life-size representations of your photography subjects referred to as macro photography. When used in the traditional fashion, ordinary lenses can’t produce an in-focus, life-size representation of your subject on your digital sensor.
This is fine for subjects that are much larger than your camera’s digital sensor; but if you want to photograph a very small subject, or a small detail of a larger subject, then ordinary equipment used in the traditional way won’t cut it.
Typically in photography, your subjects appear very small on the digital sensor (or film plane) in relation to their true size. A landscape photograph can cause mountains to fit comfortably into a 36mm x 24mm frame. A portrait fits a person’s head into the same tiny frame.
Focal length, focusing distance, and final output determine how large a lens can depict a subject. Understanding these three elements and how they affect your photography gives you a foundation for making wise decisions when purchasing macro and close-up equipment, and when creating your shots.
If you’re in a scientific field, such as forensics, or you’re discovering and documenting new species in the less-explored parts of the world, you might need to create images that reveal the subject in its actual size.
You can also use macro techniques to create the “life-size” image of shredded wheat that appears on the cereal box, create a series of artistic pieces that show subjects in their true size, or just to brag to your friends that your subjects have so much detail in them because you photographed them at life-size on your digital sensor.
Knowing is simply better than not knowing, and perhaps the best reason to understand macro and close-up photography is so you know what gear you’ll need to produce the style of images you’re going for.
When you drive into a mechanic’s garage to have your car looked at, you probably throw a few key words out there to let him know you’re aware of the parts that make up your car and the purposes they serve. This helps you feel confident that you won’t get taken for a ride (so to speak), and it shows your knowledge of the heavy machine you operate on a daily basis.
The camera shop is a lot like the mechanic’s garage. You want to be prepared and knowledgeable before walking in, or you may feel overwhelmed by the camera jargon being tossed around by salespeople. This awkward moment can cause you to make poor decisions based on what a salesperson thinks is a good idea, rather than making wise decisions based on what you know is a good idea.
By understanding the difference between a piece of equipment that actually produces macro results, and one that just sort of gets you close to the action, you can ensure that you purchase what’s right for you and for the type of photography you’ll be looking to produce.