Learn how to shoot nature’s fascinating level of detail by getting creative with light.
Macro photography involves shooting with your camera very close to your subject, and enables you to capture intricate details that you may not normally be able to see with the naked eye. If your macro subject is translucent, then you can capture even more detail by lighting it from behind.
Leaves, flower petals and even butterfly wings are all fantastic subjects for practising this technique, as the light shining through them will help their tiny patterns to show up even more in your photos.
You could also have a go at getting your shot outdoors, positioning your subject so the sun is behind it. However, you can also try it at home, as you just need a see-through surface to fix your subject to and a light source to shine behind it.
Technically, macro photography involves producing photos in which your subject is life-size with a 1:1 ratio, or bigger. Many compact cameras, even when in Macro mode, cannot achieve this, instead capturing close-up photos by using a shorter minimum focusing distance. To take a true macro photo, you will usually need a camera with a special macro lens or other accessory, but don’t let this put you off. You can still achieve fantastic results and record the tiniest of details with any camera.
Some cameras will not let you have any manual control over your settings in Macro mode, but if this isn’t the case, practise your skills and get the exposure and focusing right. Follow our simple steps to capturing a stunning backlit macro shot at home.
Secure your subject.
Find a translucent macro subject and secure it to a see-through surface with sticky tape. You could fix it to a glass table or dish that you can easily position your light source behind or underneath, or tape it to a window with plenty of light shining through.
Set up your light source.
Position a desk lamp behind your subject so that the light shines through it. The closer it is to your subject, the stronger the effect will be, so move it closer if there’s not enough light. If your subject is taped to the window, use the natural light from the sun.Select Macro mode
Switch to Macro mode to focus up close. It is usually indicated by a small flower icon on a button on the back of your camera, your mode dial or in your camera’s menu. If you have a macro lens, close-up filters or extension tubes, use these instead.
Set your aperture.
If you can control your camera settings while in Macro mode, select a narrow aperture (high f-number) to keep your frame in focus. This is important, as you will need to shoot with your subject filling the frame so as not to capture any of your light source.
Correct the exposure.
Use a fast shutter speed to prevent your shots being overexposed. If you are in a semi-manual mode, your camera may be fooled into thinking the scene is too bright and underexposed. If so, set your Exposure Compensation to +1 to brighten it up.