Using a macro lens with almost any phone camera, such as theor Pixel 4, lets you get up close with incredible details and capture a side of nature you never knew existed. "Macro photography" simply means taking a photo of a subject in extreme close-up so that they appear to be the size or size of the resulting image.
Macro photography can make even small subjects like garden insects or flower petals look huge on screen or print, and you will be amazed at how different such otherwise mundane things look when viewed so closely.
Best of all, you don't need a lot of equipment or have to leave your garden to get started.
Note that while I use ato take the pictures you see in this article, most of these tips will apply to all phones, whether you are shooting on Android or iPhone.
first Get a macro lens for your phone
The only thing you need to add to your phone to take macro pictures is a macro lens. I use Moment's macro lens, which is attached to a special Moment phone case. The torque lenses are on the expensive side, but they are made of high quality glass and belong to the best quality. The cases fit the Galaxy S8 ($ 500 at Best Buy) phones and newer, and newer, 6T and and .
You can also find clip-on macro lenses from companies like Olloclip (Olloclip's clip system lets you attach lenses to almost any phone). There is a lot of variety on Amazon for much less, though I can't speak for the quality.
2nd Find your topic: Insects and flowers work best
Important for everything is to find a topic that works well in macro. Obviously, you have to think a little. Really small.
The natural world is full of possibilities – just search "macro photography" on Google and the image results are dominated by images of insects and plant life. The great thing is that trying to find this type of wildlife to photograph does not mean jumping on a plane to a remote nature reserve.
Your garden or a nearby park is likely to fold with topics. But finding it can be more difficult. My tip is to pay attention to small parts of plants or shrubs, look for any minibeasts that can stick to stems or hide under leaves. It can be time consuming, but once you get to how they find them and where they are more likely, it becomes easier.
Remember this is their home. So don't break plants or pull leaves just to get better pictures. Getting a cool picture is not an excuse to ruin a living environment.
If insects are not your thing, look for interesting flowers, leaves, stones, loose feathers or other natural objects that may look completely different up close. Textures on clothing, food or skin can also look interesting when enlarged in an image.
3rd Shooting in manual mode
I almost always shoot in manual mode on my phone when I take artistic pictures because I have so much more control over how the finished image looks. I also make sure I shoot in raw format, which gives me greater control over the white balance and colors after I take a photo and start editing.
In most Android phones – including the latest Galaxy S10 Plus – you & # 39; I find Pro (manual) mode as an option in the regular camera program. iPhone users will need an app like Moment, which gives you manual control over the settings, and lets you shoot in raw format. I also usually use manual focus, which I will come to later, and I make sure I have a shutter speed of at least 1/125 to counter as much blur from my hands as possible.
4th Use Burst Photography
When I do not shoot in manual mode, I sometimes shoot in the default camera mode. The main reason is that it allows me to use burst mode, which takes several photos in quick succession by simply pressing and holding the shutter button. If an insect is in a troublesome position, or is moving, I have found that the best way to capture a good shot is to hold your finger on the shutter button, to shoot dozens of photos per second.
By doing so, I keep the subject roughly in sight while moving the lens in and out slightly. Hopefully one of the approximately 70 pictures will be nice and sharp.
Most manual modes do not allow you to use burst mode. As a solution in manual mode, I click the shutter button as soon as possible to take more pictures, increasing the chance that at least one of them will look good. With this method I can postpone 30 individual pictures of each subject, maybe just one of them is something good. It's a hit or miss technique, but the hits are worth the effort!
5th Get the right focus, even without focusing on stacking
Making sure your topic is in focus is the most difficult part of the whole task. Professional macro photographers often use a technique called focus stacking, whereby multiple images in different focus points are combined in the post to achieve a fully focused subject. This is difficult to achieve in the field as it requires the subject to remain completely still while taking photos. That is why, unfortunately, some macro photographers use dead insects in their work, or those that have been kept in a refrigerator to slow down their movements and then shoot in a controlled studio.
The macro lens of the moment I use gives a brilliant close-up view of an insect, but it also has an extremely narrow focus plane – which means that only a narrow disc in the scene is sharp. Focusing on an insect's eye, for example, is likely to mean that the body falls out of focus. While it is challenging to get a sharp shot, your background will also be beautifully blurry and you won't have to worry too much about distracting elements behind your subject.
The technique I used most for this piece involved shooting in S10 Plus manual mode, with manual focus set to its closest focus point. Afterwards I moved the camera steadily towards the subject until only the part I wanted to see sharp came into focus, and then I took the picture. At that magnification level, even a small shake will throw everything out of focus, so it takes a steady hand.
6th Bring some extra lighting
Like all kinds of photography, macro photography relies on a lot of light that falls on your subject. But getting that lighting in the right place is difficult. I photographed many macro images under the midday sun because the bright light helped to bring out the colors of the insect. It also enabled the phone to use the lowest possible ISO speed (resulting in less image noise) and the fastest shutter speed (for sharper images).
But if you try to find small insects in the foliage it means that you can hunt under bushes or in forest areas where natural light can be scarce. Another issue is that you can block the sunlight with your phone, because you have to get extremely close to your subject and the best angle can mean that you cast a shadow.
The latter question could be helped by simply trying different angles, but I also had great success in getting my own lighting. I use the RotoLight Stealth LED ring light, which is battery powered and can easily fit into a backpack. It is powerful enough to add a good amount of light to the subject and its hand-held size allows you to easily move it around to put the light at the most flattering angle. I also use the newer Rotolight Neo II, which has a much higher light output, which makes it better for illuminating macro substances in daylight.
7th Edit for impact
Editing your image is a great way to take a simple image and turn it into a truly artistic work. I use Adobe Lightroom on Android to edit my images, but I also work with Snapseed and VSCO.
Normally, I adjust the white balance to get a natural and accurate look on the color (and it's even easier if you have pushed in raw). Then I play with the exposure to make sure that the highlights are not too overwhelming and that the detail has not been lost in the dark shadows.
I then edit based on what I think looks good. I can use an adjustment brush to "paint" more light in the subject to help it stand out, and use a vignette to darken the edges of the frame and thereby draw the eye more towards the subject in the middle. With nature and wildlife, I want to keep the subject as natural as possible – I like to improve the scene, but not change it – so I avoid dramatically changing colors, or using strong filters.
There is no right or wrong way to edit, so hit back with a cup of tea and enjoy fine-tuning the controls to see what you can achieve with your recently captured set of captivating macro photos.