Macro gear allows you to get close to your subject and Autumn is a perfect time to provide lots of interesting subjects that are crying out to be photographed up close. Macro photography is when you fill the frame with smaller subjects. True macro is 1:1 - the subject appears the same size on the viewinder/sensor as it is in real life. When you print out true macro pictures they become much larger than life and you can see all the intricate detail.
- Camera with a close focus around 10cm - most modern compacts are fine
- Macro lens, such as the Tamron 90mm, or extension tubes for your SLR - for really close work
- Tripod with low level camera position
Many modern compact cameras have incredibly close focus - some as close as 1cm. Make sure the camera is set to the macro setting (indicated by a flower icon) If you have an SLR you will need to attach a lens with a macro focusing range such as the Tamron 90mm lens
. Some zoom lenses have this facility but more often you need to add a special macro lens or convert your existing lens using one of a range of accessories designed for macro photography.
See our article on choosing the right macro accessories
To keep your camera steady you should use a tripod and preferably one that's versatile enough to allow the camera to get very low to the ground
. One with a reversing centre column will help, ideally one where the centre column can be used at different angles so you can get the camera into awkward spots.
Spotting good macro photos takes practice. You should be looking for subjects that are colourful or have interesting textures. In Autumn there are plenty of opportunities from fallen items on the floor to an abundence of colour up in the trees and shrubs that may be bursting with fruit and berries.
Horse Chestnut tree
A Horse Chestnut tree is a good place to start. Its fruit what we commonly call conkers are ripe and falling so look under the tree for the lovely brown conkers popping out of their bright green shells. Look for ones where the weight of the conkers has snapped the branch they were on and pulled several down and photograph the cluster. You could make an arrangement with a few using the large bright leaves as the background. Better still take a bag full home and photograph them indoors at your leisure. In the same vane you could collect the fallen rusty coloured leaves and make a textured collage of the rich autumn colour. These could be used as a texture shot or as a background to an Autumn still life
It's the time of year when elderberries and many other berries are ripe. Use a polarising filter on the lens to cut down on reflections and allow the natural colour of the berries to shine through. You may need to underexpose to ensure the berries are rich and deep blue/black.
Fungi will be sprouting up in woodlands and damp places. Carry a sheet of waterproof material and use it to lay on so you can get down to ground level. Move in close and focus on the cap and use a wider aperture so the background is thrown out of focus. A polarising filter helps here to reduce glare on the cap. Alternatively ask a friend to stand over and shade it from direct light. Try shooting bracket fungi (the ones that sprout out of trees) from above and below as well as from the side for interesting textures and shapes.
The sun is low in the sky in autumn so try shooting with the sun behind the subject so the backlighting / flare helps makes the macro shot far more creative.
If you've placed your camera on a tripod the shutter speed is less important, but do watch if the subject is moving in the wind. A fast speed will be need to prevent blur.
When choosing an aperture bear in mind that a small one (f/11-f/16) will make everything sharp and a large opening (f/2.8-f/4) will totally blur the background but may also mean some of the subject is out of focus. Use the depth-of-field preview if your camera has one. If not take a test shot and view using the LCD preview in magnified mode.
So wrap up warm, go shooting and let's see your autumn close ups.