Step by step FOCUSING FROM CLOSE UP
01 Swi tch to manual focus
Although modern autofocus (AF) systems are highly sophisticated, AF is rarely the best option for close-up work. AF has a habit of struggling to lock on to small, nearby objects and fine detail, especially when you’re shooting in low-light or low-contrast situations. Manual focus is usually a better option for macro photography, allowing you to select and place your point of focus with far greater accuracy – precisely on an insect’s eyes or the stamens of a flower, for example.
02 Think about aperture
Aperture selection has a critical effect not only on how much of the subject appears in focus, but also on the surroundings. By selecting a wide aperture only the parts of the subject that are in the same plane as the focus point will come out sharp. Everything else will be blurred. Conversely, by stopping the aperture down to, say, f/16, more of the subject, but also the surroundings, will appear sharp. It comes down to the subject being photographed, and personal preference.
03 Find a suitable parallel
Focus is not only affected by the aperture that you choose, but also by the positioning of the camera in relation to the subject. In order to capture more of your subject in focus, make sure the back of the camera is parallel to (in other words, in the same plane as) the most important parts of the subject. For example, if you want to get the wings of a resting butterfly in sharp focus, then the camera’s sensor should be parallel to both wings. That way you’ll capture maximum detail.
Far left In this image, the butterflies’ wings are parallel to the camera sensor for maximum sharpness
While extension tubes and their ilk are useful for getting close-ups, if you’re
serious about macro photography, you should invest in a proper
macro lens. Top Think about the background, too: let your subjects stand out!
Middle left Water drops can look fantastic in macro shots, but they need to be pin-sharp
Left Sometimes you may want to set a small aperture to get more of your subject in focus