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Welcome to Zoom-Foto

You've no doubt landed here as part of a journey. It starts with the quest for knowledge or inspiration and ends generally with a few choice words with our good friend Google. Words like "camera" and "lighting", combined with "how'd they do that ..." and "how can I do that ..." will land you here. Take heart my friends. I can show you "how'd they do that" - and how you can too.

And this is where our paths cross and we begin our journey together. I have trod the path of 'avid photographer' for years. I have searched for hours for 'how to photograph water drops' and marveled at the perfection of other people's beautifully poised single sparkling drop. I have stood for far too long in the cold to capture that one moment of swirling snow when the air appears to sparkle. And I confess with guilt that beautiful wild horses in the Icelandic hills just had to be photographed at the expense of my very patient traveling companions.

We have all been there - somewhere where the distractions of life are left behind and we exist in the moment. Camera in hand, subject just there. And nothing else. Call me obsessed, call me a little crazy, and you might have captured my dedication to documenting that moment.
If you get this - if you've been there - then join me as I follow the path of avid photographer. Let's learn a lot of photo tech, share our inspiration and produce fantastic shots!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Macro Mania - Resistance is Futile!: Top 10 tips for Great Macro Photos

There's only one answer and its very simple. To avoid succumbing to Macro Mania DO NOT purchase a macro lens. Do not browse other peoples awesome images online, and for god's sake, keep that credit card in your wallet.  Danger lurks - take it from me - I succumbed - I purchased the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG HSM Macro Lens and I saw an immediate scarcity of both time and money.

Happily, along with scarcity of some essential resources, I also experienced a transformation that was worth the cost.  When I started my journey as a photographer I found new appreciation for the visuals.  Now as Macro Mania sets in, I enjoy those same visuals at very close range - it's a whole new perspective.  I've captured a fruit fly sitting on a butterfly's leg.  I've shot a beautiful fly's butt. And yes, I always photograph my food in restaurants before eating - my lens makes me do it!  :-)

Let's suppose you've already succumbed to Macro Mania. Now you might as well enjoy it.  Here's my Top 10 tips for Great Macro Photos:

  1. Buy the best lens you can: Go for a longer focal length, a largest aperture of at least 2.8, image stabilization and a high speed-focusing motor.  Fork out the cash or you'll be handing over more in a few months for an upgrade.
  2. Use a tripod, lean your hand on something, or use a remote shutter release - just keep that camera steady: At close range you'll really see the effect of camera shake.
  3. Water drops are your friend: This is a great technique for spicing up those standard macro shots.  Go out in the rain, use a spray bottle, or water dropper.  Stunning results justify a little 'cheating'.  Add a little glycerine (from your local drugstore) to get those drops to hold their shape and position just a little better.
  4. Look for bugs at mid-day, but look for sleepy bugs early in the morning: This one is a trade-off.  If you're having trouble finding little creatures to photograph, head out at mid-day.  With the sun and warmth, they'll be out and busy and easily located.  Now you'll experience the frustration of shooting a busy bug that's just not up for posing.  Try an early morning shoot.  Those sleepy critters will be easy to shoot.
  5. Check your backgrounds: Its not just all about your subject.  That subject will be so much more striking if your background is given the same consideration as the rest of the shot. 
  6. Cloudy days are great days: Avoid glare and harsh shadows on your subject with ease.  Avoid the sun!
  7. Banish the light: If you have no choice but to go out shooting in the glaring sun, you're in luck.  Just block that sun by positioning your body between your subject and the sun.
  8. Find your focus: At close range and with a large aperture, a movement of as little as 1mm can change the focus enough to completely ruin your picture.  Once your focus has locked, shift your position slightly until you've captured the right focal point.
  9. Depth of Field is where its at: Large aperture is highly recommended!  This is a common technique that isolates your subject from surroundings.  A blurry background removes distractions, or a slightly blurry but interesting background can frame your subject beautifully.
  10. Mix it up: Framing and Composition: Be creative - think outside the box!


  1. Good tips overall, except avoiding the sun. All my macro are sun lit....

  2. I love your macros Nicky - bugs and florals.

  3. Thanks for the positive comments Johan, Pierre, and mum!
    Pierre, thanks for the additional input. I've edited my tips a little to emphasis that efforts at 'avoiding the sun' are an effort to combat possible issues with glare.

  4. Nicola, Great tips for great Macro photos, really very helpful tips. Thanks!

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  11. This is great! A lot of phone photo apps now also have this capability. Instagram’s selective focus mode can, with a little experimentation, give decent tilt/shift results as well.
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