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Macro Photography Tips

Ben Boswell shares his tips on shooting macros with a magnifying glass and a DSLR.

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Words and images by Ben Boswell - www.benboswell.co.uk



Not everyone has the opportunity to get away on holiday, but that does not mean that you cannot indulge your passion for photography. The ‘staycation’ has become very popular and if in the past you’d have brought home a collection of holiday pictures, why change that just because your holiday was slightly more ‘local’. These pictures were taken within 20 meters of my back door. Mine are predominantly flowers because I like photographing flowers, but if you get close enough then quite a lot of things get more interesting!


There is no need for expensive equipment: these were shot with a magnifying glass taped to the front of my camera. There is fall off in quality to the edges, but it barely shows because all the stuff outside the main subject is completely out of focus. In this picture of a rose, there is virtually nothing sharp, but the thin line of detail makes the picture work anyway and the result is a beautiful abstract.

Bettle On A Poppy

When you look closely at the world what you see is quite different. If you were to look at a field of poppies you would see a great mass of red, but when you look on a macro scale you see detail that you would almost certainly overlook otherwise. The beetle in this picture is just a couple of millimetres long and was cleaning pollen from its legs.

Poppy Fruit

The other thing that appears when you blow up the scale is pattern; many everyday things are made up from smaller units. You probably won’t notice these when you look at normal scale, but close up the patterns become very obvious and dominate the picture. This poppy, quite different from the last, makes a great graphic photograph, full of detail that I didn’t really see until I looked at the picture on my computer screen.


Just to show you that the macro world outside your door does not have to be filled with flowers to be interesting, these last two pictures are of some flaking paint on the windowsill of my office and a tiny part of one of the engineering bricks that make up my garden path. I’ll admit that I lay on the ground for quite a while chasing ants because I thought it would make a better picture, but they were just too quick for me.

Engineering Brick

I have given instructions for this before, but here they are again for those who have not played with this as yet. You can use most magnifying glasses as close up lenses as long as the magnifier is big enough to cover the front of your lens. First check that it will give you what you want by just holding it in front of the camera to see what scale you get. If you like it, tape the magnifier to the filter ring. You will need an SLR, it can be done with a compact but it is very much harder to get anything sharp. Be careful not to obstruct the focus on the camera, manual focus may be easier. Above all make sure that the magnifier does not touch the front of the lens optics!

Words and images by Ben Boswell - www.benboswell.co.uk

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8 May 2012 7:35PM
I agree, I managed to capture some very nice shots just shoving a Raynox DCR250 on the end of my Panasonic FZ30 bridge camera! (regret selling it with it)
I think people should just like the pictures, not just because of what it was taken with. Yes there are limitations but just because it isn`t an X attachment it shouldn`t make a blind bit of difference.

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