Macro shots in nature can be intimidating. Not only do you have to have a steady hand, but you also have to get close to wildlife. The purpose of macro photography is to enhance what the viewer is seeing. This is especially powerful in nature, because we rarely take the time to really notice the details that are all around us. Here are some key tips for you to take with you whenever you go out with the purpose of shooting Macro B&W photos in nature.
Photograph by GuruShots member Wahyudi Barasila – Monochrome Macro Challenge
It can be difficult to manage focus, especially when you’re so close to your subject. Whenever you’re trying to get macro shots, your f-stop should be set at no larger than f/16 to ensure that your subject remains in focus.
This image was able to focus on the reflections in the water droplets with great clarity thanks to the clean focus settings on the camera.
Photograph by GuruShots member Jai-Ros Ros – Monochrome Macro Challenge
Something beginner macro photographers forget about when taking macro photos is the composition of the frame. Composition is just as important in macro photography as it is in other realms of photography.
When composing your shot, be aware of not only your backdrop, but your depth of field as well. You will almost always have a large depth of field in natural macro photography, especially if you are shooting out in nature and not in a studio. This depth of field enhances the macro effect, while your background will be quite blurred out. This is ideal so the background has less opportunities to distract the viewer from the subject of the shot.
In this shot, the leaves provided a strong depth of field and although you can see that there are elements in the background of the subject, they do not distract.
Photograph by GuruShots member Otto Mercik – Monochrome Macro Challenge
Along with being aware of your composition, don’t be afraid to get creative when you’re shooting in macro. The whole purpose of macro is to show viewers the beauty in the everyday. Don’t be afraid to shoot your subject from interesting angles in order to provide an even newer perspective on everyday nature.
The photographer of this image could have easily shot this insect from above, but decided to literally showcase it head-on, providing more detail and intimacy.
Fighting Natural Elements
Photograph by GuruShots member Juanda Joe – Monochrome Macro Challenge
When photographing in nature, you will undoubtedly have to battle against natural elements that may negatively impact your photo. Your largest competitor will be the wind, which can cause your shot to easily blur. In order to avoid this, make sure your camera is set to a fast shutter speed so you don’t miss any moments
You should also invest in a tripod to ensure that your hands are as steady as possible.
Fast shutter speed to avoid complications from natural elements such as wind that could make your shot blurry—also use a tripod
Fighting the natural elements can be especially hard when photographing insects and even harder when they themselves are balancing on leaves or other flimsy elements.
Photograph by GuruShots member Anoop Namboothiri – Monochrome Macro Challenge
If you’re still shooting in autofocus, become comfortable with shooting in manual focus, especially when taking macro photos. Auto focus may mess up your vision and not focus on the subject that you want it to. It’s important to focus on the subject that you want, not the subject your digital camera thinks you want.
Without manual focus on, the photographer of this image may not have gotten the correct fungi in focus that they were looking for.
Photograph by GuruShots member Keith Passaur – Monochrome Macro Challenge
Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subject. Your subject may be a scary looking insect, but if you don’t get close enough to your subject, the macro perspective you’re looking for may not work.
You should also get level with your subject so you are seeing things from their perspective.
Photograph by GuruShots member Derek Gravett – Monochrome Macro Challenge
There can be a huge loss of light when shooting in macro photography. The lens can easily block out the natural lighting as you get closer to your subject. In order to combat this, increase your ISO to correspond to the amount of light you’re losing, or correct it in post processing.
You can see in the image below the difference in lighting of the subject and the background. The photographer shot with an external light in order to add light to an area that may have been covered up by their lens.
Macro images can be incredibly powerful with natural subjects and even more powerful when shot in black and white. The detail and intricacies in nature can be presented to the viewer in a new light. Make sure to utilize the tips above to create the best possible image.