Composition Basics in Macro Photography
1 Composition Basics in Macro Photography
|Thoughtful composition can turn a good shot into a great image.|
It's hard to overstate the importance of composition. For all of the emphasis we as photographers tend to place on which camera, lens or other gear to use, there's nothing that contributes more to a pleasing image than careful attention to the framing of your subject. In this article I'm going to discuss some of the compositional techniques most applicable to macro photography. I'll illustrate these with a lot of images, as these concepts are often much easier both to understand and apply with visual examples in mind.
I have already mentioned POV (point of view) in an earlier article as a critical aspect of composition in macro photography. Shooting from the same vantage point as the subject creates a feeling of intimacy which is so important in wildlife imagery.
The concept of 'lead room' is important in macro as well as other wildlife photography. The idea is that the frame should contain extra space in the direction in which the animal's eyes are looking. Indeed, having a subject looking at the nearest edge of the frame can be unappealing. The use of appropriate lead room contributes greatly to a sense of balance in the image. Consider the examples below.
|This gorgeous strawberry poison dart frog was facing right. I thus positioned it on the left side of the image, and left some lead room to the right.|
Lead room doesn't have to be overly drastic to be effective. I'm not suggesting you shove your subjects all the way into one corner or the other. You want just enough additional space in the direction to which the eyes are looking to give the image room to 'breathe'.
|Lead room doesn’t only exist to the right or left. This Dragonfly was looking downward and to the left, so that’s where I left extra space.|
This basic understanding of lead room can be augmented for an even more appropriate application to macro. For creatures whose eyes are not prominent features, the amount of lead room should be based instead on the subject's shape and body structure. In macro, many of our subjects (like the damselflies shown below) have very long and narrow abdomens. In fact, the damselfly is so long, it's very tempting to just fill the frame with it. Yet here I would argue that the damselfly's center of mass should be used as the reference point from which to apply lead room, rather than the entire body. This is much easier to demonstrate than explain, as you'll see below.
Rule of thirds
The rule of thirds offers another guideline for maintaining balance. Most of my images are either centered or follow the rule of thirds - this usually depends of whether the subject is looking straight at the camera or to either side.
Of course there are many situations in which it does make sense to center the subject in the frame, as you can see in the example below.
|This fly is looking straight into the camera, so it was a good idea to position it in the center of the frame. This strengthens the visual quality of this alien-looking species.|
|Blue and yellow in water by fireplace33|
from Ink and water
|Kylmä joki kopio by Kaappo|
from Shutter speed 1/25 or slower
|WR_2.8_13 copy copy by photoprof|
Ridiculous test incoming. What happens when you slap a $50 Yongnuo 50mm F1.8 lens onto a $12,000+ 5K RED cinema camera? One YouTuber decided to give it a shot and find out.
Drone giant DJI has released a teaser video titled 'adventure unfolds,' implying that a new folding drone is coming on January 23rd at 10am Eastern time.
Some good inspiration for current and aspiring wedding photographers out there. If you shoot images like these, you're bound to stand out from the crowd and give your clients that "wow" factor.
In his video Structure, photographer Drew Geraci shows how everyday objects become fascinating landscapes when captured in moving 4K shots at up to 1000x magnification.
The 2018 Japan BCN camera rankings are in, and the most surprising bit of news is that Canon is still outpacing Sony in the mirrorless segment, taking the #2 spot in that segment while still dominating in DSLRs.
Nikon's updated D850 firmware brings a number of smaller bug fixes, including fixing a green cast issue that was happening when users had long exposure noise reduction turned on.
Fujifilm's first 1:1 macro lens for the X-system gives a 122mm equivalent view of the world. We gave it a go shooting close-up subjects as well as some portraits – take a look at how it performs when paired with the X-T2.
According to a Reuters report, US Congress is urging US companies to sever ties with Chinese manufacturers of communication equipment.
A firm launch date is still forthcoming, but in the meantime a sample reel from Kodak's new Super 8 camera has been released.
HTC's newest handset, the HTC U11 Eyes, improves on the standard U11 by slapping a dual camera on the front for 'portrait mode' selfies with real-time bokeh simulation.
Missile scare notwithstanding, we spent a lovely few days in Hawaii shooting with Sony's newest APS-C E-mount lens. See how it measures up capturing the spectacular scenery that the Aloha State is known for.
Now that we've completed our review of Panasonic's Lumix DC-G9, we've updated its entry in our Best Cameras Under $2000 and Best Cameras for Sports & Action buying guides.
Hasselblad has introduced its next-generation multi-shot camera body, built to shoot 400-megapixel photos by using sensor-shift technology to combine up to six exposures into a single monster image measuring 23200 x 17400 pixels.
CVS is banning digitally altered beauty imagery on its store-brand beauty products, and plans to mark other brands' images as "Digitally Altered" if they're not up to snuff by the end of 2020.
Canon has announced that it will introduce a series of printers that allow users to refill the ink tanks themselves—a surprising shift that could, in theory, save customers quite a bit of money.
Adventure and lifestyle photographer Lucy Martin put together a useful little video that goes over her 18 favorite Lightroom shortcuts—a great guide for beginners.
Following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Bruce Weber and Mario Testino, magazine publisher Conde Nast has severed ties with both of the famed fashion photographers, and released a code of conduct for future photo shoots.
Photographer Christopher Payne captures the 'colorful world of craft and complexity' you'll find in the General Pencil Company's factory in Jersey City... and almost nowhere else.
A new feature in the Google Arts & Culture app compares your facial features to its database of thousands of artworks, finding your fine art "doppelganger."
Recently, we spent a day in Los Angeles with photographer, cook and food blogger Kylie Mazon. Join us and see how Kylie approaches the challenge of shooting lifestyle and promotional images for a downtown hotel with the Canon EOS M6.
Leica has announced a pair of short telephoto lenses for its SL full-frame mirrorless camera. The APO-Summicron-SL 75mm and 90mm F2 ASPH lenses feature an apochromatic design to reduce chromatic aberration, one aspherical element and minimum focusing distances of around 0.5m.
The Panasonic G9 is the brand's top-tier stills camera. We've updated our already large sample gallery with even more photos to enjoy.
The latest product of Huawei's collaboration with Leica is a smartphone with a great all-around imaging feature set that left us very little to complain about.
In this quick video, award-winning travel photographer Bob Holmes shares nine of his most basic and straightforward tips for finding great images, even when you're in a rut.
Gudsen has launched a new gimbal that’s aimed at mirrorless photographers. With a payload of 3.9lbs/1.8kg, the new Moza AirCross can provide stabilization to a mirrorless body even fitted with a cinema lens and a new in-handle option can provide power to Sony and Panasonic cameras.
The Lensbaby 46mm Macro Kit comprises of three stackable filters with different magnification levels, which can be combined with several of the company's "bokeh effect" lenses.
Nikon Rumors is reporting that an upcoming full-frame mirrorless camera from Nikon will sport an all-new "Z-Mount" with an extremely short flange distance of just 16mm.
A lot of people still have positive associations with the Kodak brand and its iconic logos, but it’s worth clearing something up: not everything with the Kodak name on it has much connection to a bunch of clever people in Rochester, New York.
A leaked image of a Galaxy S9 retail box indicates the new model might come with a variable aperture lens and a super-slow-motion video mode.
The portable little scanner features a 3.5-inch color screen, an integrated SD card slot for saving your scans, adapter trays for different types of film, and an HDMI port for viewing your scans directly on an external display.