By Max Therry:
Who would have thought that when mobile phones were first released, we would eventually be able to take stunning photos on them that rivaled those of DSLR cameras? Smartphone camera technology has developed rapidly in the last few years – cameras on phones such as the Google Pixel 2, Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and iPhone X boast fantastic resolutions, focusing tools and also nifty features such as HDR functionality and panorama effects.
One particular type of photo effect that smartphones excel in is macro photography – smartphone cameras often allow users to take superb macro photos just by using the basic settings. If you want to take high-end close-up photography, however, there are certain steps you can take to improve your composition and quality ten-fold. Macro photography requires a certain approach, a keen eye for detail, and also a steady hand – if you want to improve your miniature photography, we have provided 6 awesome tips that should help greatly!
Use the correct equipment
Equipment is a key factor in macro photography. Macro photography often involves using the zoom function of your camera and thus requires a great deal of stability. If your camera is unstable, or if you move it even a small amount, this could cause motion blur, and result in your macro subject being out of focus. To help reduce camera shake and motion blur, it is advisable to use a mini tripod and a remote control shutter.
Standard DSLR cameras can use heavy duty tripods – obviously, these are not practical for use with a smartphone. Luckily, you can purchase mini tripods that are made exclusively for use with smartphones. These tripods allow you to securely mount your phone and are usually lightweight and easy to carry. To provide even greater stability, try not to use camera button on your phone to avoid shake. Set a timer or use a remote shutter - for example, if you have iPhone, you can use the volume buttons on your headphones to take a shot. No need to touch the phone itself! By using a tripod and remote, you can greatly improve the focus and stability of your macro shots.
Consider using a specialized macro lens
Did you know that you can actually purchase attachable lenses for your smartphone? Many third-party developers have actually created some amazing quality lenses that you can simply screw on or clip on to your smartphone camera. For example, Stuff4camera sell the fantastic clip-on wide-angle and macro lens which magnifies subjects up to 10x and provides amazing clarity and focus. By using these lenses, you can attain a greater level of detail and zoom than your standard camera can achieve.
Don’t be afraid to use third-party apps and post-processing tools
While most of Android have manual control over camera settings in Pro Mode, switching to manual settings is a bit more challenging for iPhone users. That’s were third-party apps that allow you to have control over your settings. There is a number of dedicated third-party apps that can help you create stunning macro effects. Consider using a third-party app to improve your shots and to give you a wider range of effects and techniques to use.
For example, blurring in Snapseed
Furthermore, some apps allow you to shoot in Raw mode, therefore you can improve your macro shots indefinitely directly in the app or by using desktop software such as Luminar, Lightroom or GIMP. You can edit a host of parameters such as white balance, saturation, contrast, clarity, and exposure. In short, you can touch up your photos and transform them into something truly breath-taking.
Use the correct settings
First and foremost, if your camera or has a macro function, use it! This dedicated function will provide a much greater end-product than simply using the zoom capability of your smartphone camera. A smartphone’s macro feature will account for things like shutter speed and aperture, and will also provide a stable level of zoom.
To improve your shot further, consider manually changing the aperture of your camera if possible – the lower the number i.e. f/2.8 the small field of focus your shot will achieve. You can then create artistic effects where the foreground subject is in focus, and the background and surrounding features are out of focus. You could also consider trying black and white compositions, or manually editing the white balance and exposure beforehand. Try out different settings and see exactly what your macro function can achieve.
Create unusual angles and compositions
The best macro photography provides us with something extraordinary – something unexpected or unusual. Using the macro function of your smartphone, you can zoom in on everyday objects and amaze your viewers with something truly fantastic. Try and unleash your creativity and go against the grain – don’t take the same old shots that everyone else has created – be unique.
Simple examples of this are zooming in on plants and coins to see their textures and detail close-up – everyone can recognize a leaf or a coin, but could you recognise these objects at 10x the level of detail? Also experiment with unusual angles – don’t be afraid to move objects around or position yourself in a different position; let your imagination run wild and see objects in a different light.
Look for interesting textures and patterns
The fantastic thing about macro photography is that you can see a greater level of detail than you normally would with your naked eye. Using a smartphone’s macro function combined with a zoom lens allows you to see some beautiful patterns, gradients and textures – use this to your advantage to create some true masterpieces.
Examples of interesting patterns and textures include wood grain, plant leaves, flowers, rustic metals, fruits, vegetables – basically anything that has a high level of detail and doesn’t have a plain, flat surface. Once you start using the macro feature of your camera, you will be amazed at what textures and patterns you can find.
We hope you have found these tips useful – macro photography really is a fun activity to undertake – you can unleash your creative side and make some superb works of art with minimal effort. If you take these tips on board and start practicing today, you can astound your friends and family with your magnificent macro shots!Max Therry is an architecture student who is fond of photography and wants to become a professional photographer. He is also working on his photography blog about photo editing, modern photo trends, and inspiration. Feel free to reach him by email