Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Basics (pt 2)

I did a post for the Instagram Group Brickcentral a few months ago passing along a few tips for better outdoor macro photography. I thought it might be a good idea to go over these tips again to make sure we are all on the same page as we move forward to better photography. 

1) Pay attention to scale - the beauty is in the details. This is especially true with macro photography. You can reveal a new and fresh look at our world by getting up close. 

2) Keep your composition simple. To place maximum attention on your subject you will want to eliminate unwanted clutter. This includes small leaves, pine needles, bits of garbage, stray grass…these seemingly little things will distract from your composition. You want to emphasize what is important, minimize everything else. 

3) Take your time. Take lots of photos of the same set-up and check your view screen to make sure you got what you were looking for. Great photos can't be rushed.  

4) Keep the camera level. Ok I admit it, this is a personal pet peeve. In my opinion crooked horizon lines are only interesting once. 

5) Use the "rule of thirds"to help your composition. (Please see earlier post for a full explanation.) 

6) Use a tripod. Even though hand held is convenient, you can't always maintain good focus. You will also want to use the manual focus setting on your camera. Most cameras have a very hard time finding the correct focus point much less maintaining that focus on these small figures. If you have the money, invest in a lens with Image Stabilization.

7) Change your perspective. If you're struggling with your set up, change your point of view. Sometimes an unforeseen angle is the best one. Also try to get below your figure. When shooting these small toys, I find that shooting up at them seems to help them feel more majestic. 

8) Take advantage of the "golden hour". This is the hour right after sunrise and right before sunset. Amazing things can happen!

9) Experiment. Try different things, try things that make you uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to push yourself. 

~ xxsjc

Do you have any tips you would like to pass along?
Where is your favorite place to photograph your toy friends?

Next up I will share a few tips especially suited for macro photography. Stay tuned


  1. Great post.

    Not sure I fully understand point 6.

    When using a tripod, I would actually recommend to use delayed trigger (I am not going as far as using open reflex prior to shoot) instead of lens stabilisation. I have lens stabilisation on my tele, but most of the times my plastic friends are not doing a sprint on me :-)

    Are you using lens stabilization on a tripod ?

    Just curious.

    1. I guess #6 is a little confusing. I use IS instead of a tripod. It helps with the hand shake so I can keep their little eyes in focus. After so many years of dragging around many pounds of equipment for my underwater shoots I try to keep these shoots as light as possible. I may have to reconsider that tactic…eventually.