How to Take Amazing Macro Photos with an iPhone

How to Take Amazing Macro Photos with an iPhone

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Tropical white flower with yellow stamens, ladybug and transparent drop of water on a green background macro. Colorful elegant graceful expressive image of nature, wallpaper.
Macro photography is about getting as much details as you can about your subject.

Given how busy you are with your everyday life or routine, missing the small yet important details can be quite easy for you. You overlook these small details, which, at times, could be as important and as inspiring as the big ones. 

When was the last time you stopped and appreciate everything around you? From the tiniest flower to the intricate patterns of an insect’s body, these small details could bring you into a totally different perspective.

Macro photography is an exceptional way to kickstart appreciating the small things in life. The best thing is you don’t need a high-end and fancy camera to practice macro photography.. Your iPhone is already more than enough! Besides, Apple takes pride with its camera, which takes images as good as the ones taken using a DSLR. 

Are you ready to take a whole new perspective into your photography? If yes, here is everything that you need to know about macro photography. 

What is macro photography?

Macro photography refers to the technique of taking photos of small things by making them look larger than their original size. It allows us to take a look at every small detail of a subject. It is also a dramatic and exciting way of taking images. 

You might be thinking that macro photography is the same as close-up photography, but they are not. 

The main difference between the two is that macro photography makes use of technology in increasing the size of an image to have a close-up photo without actually getting so close to your subject. On the other hand, close-up photography is about getting your iPhone camera subject without the use of add ons like a lens or an app. 

iPhone Macro Photography Tips

Taking stunning macro images isn’t always a piece of cake, especially when you are new to it. The outcome could either be out of focus, blurry, or dark, which is frustrating. 

Here are some of the things that you should know when you are taking macro images with your iPhone

1. Choose your light

Light source icons set. Cartoon set of 9 light source vector icons for web isolated on white background
Proper lighting is very important with macro photography to get all the details.

Lighting is crucial in all types of photography. When taking macro images, a decent light is very much needed. Having this in mind, you should carefully consider how you’re going to position your images and when will you take the images. 

Typically, both direct and indirect lighting is alright; however, ideally, macro images should be taken during early morning or mid-afternoon for a softer and more natural light. 

Taking macro images during midday, when the sun is too harsh or too bright, can overexpose your subject and your iPhone might find it hard to focus on your subject as well. 

But if you really want to shoot under the blazing sun, you could try positioning your shadow into an angle where indirect lighting is provided to your subject. If it’s not effective, then try changing the orientation of your iPhone camera, so that the sun will shine on your shot and not behind it. 

2. Keep your focus

One of the trickiest parts of macro photography is getting in focus. 

More often than not, professional macro photographers use the focus stacking technique, which is combining multiple images with different focus points to create a fully focused subject. 

With your iPhone, you can regulate the camera’s focus using the focus manual setting. This will give you more control in focusing on your subject. 

Another great iPhone camera feature that you could use is the AE/AF Lock. This will help you capture better macro shots by licking the focus on your subject. This will also help you avoid ruining the photo with just your small movements. 

To activate the AE/AF Lock, simply tap and hold the part of the screen where your subject is located until the AE/EF Lock will appear.  This indicates that your camera’s focus is already locked on your subject. It will show either on the top or bottom part of the screen, depending on your iPhone model.

Meanwhile, to release the focus, simply tap anywhere on the screen. 

3. Keep your camera steady

Mobile phone with tripod and clip for it
A stabilizing device, like a tripod, is very important to lessen camera shake.

You must keep your camera stable when taking macro shots. Since your photo is already enlarged or your field of depth is limited, a simple shake or wobble could make your image appear blurry or out of focus. 

If you plan to focus on macro photography for a long time, investing in a tripod is definitely worth it. But if macro photography is just a one-time thing for you, then you could try other alternatives such as using stationary objects with the like of wall, rock, gate, or anything else in your subject that will help you keep steady. 

A beanbag will also help you comfortably get up close and personal with your subject in as much as it will also support and keep your phone steady while shooting. 

Furthermore, your earphones could also serve as a remote trigger when attached to your iPhone. Any of the volume buttons could serve as your shutter button. Doing so will keep you away from fumbling your screen that causes unnecessary movements. 

If possible, avoid shooting when the wind is too strong, especially when doing outdoor macro photography. This is because it will be harder for you to take images and staying focused on your subject will be more difficult since your subject is moving. 

Ideally, shoot during calm days so that your subject will be steady. 

4. Get the right closeness 

Have you ever tried getting your finger so close to your face? If yes, you probably have noticed how everything turns blurry and focusing is hard? 

Just like you, your camera experiences the same way too when you get too close to your subject. 

The fixed lens focal lens of your iPhone is 29mm. That means your depth of field is extremely shallow and is only allowed to get so close to your subject before it turns blurry. This also indicates that only a small part of your photo will remain focused. 

In case you are using a macro lens, you’ll probably notice how everything turns blurry but things will start getting clear and sharp once you are a few inches away from your subject. Therefore, you should get close but not too close that your subject turns out blurry. Ideally, your camera should be 2 to 3 inches away from your subject. 

It would be better if you do some trial and error shots before getting into the real thing. This will help you get the right measurement of how far you should be from your subject. 

Moreover, always remember to keep a reasonable distance from your subject because even with a simple or minor change, everything could be ruined. 

5. Use the Rule of Thirds

Camera screen frame, mobile video recording, smartphone in hand, vector
When it comes to macro photography, the rule of thirds helps get a better composition of the image.

The rule of thirds is about dividing your camera screen into nine equal parts. When using the rule of thirds, your subject should be placed exactly where the lines intersect. 

If you find it hard to create imaginary lines, you can simply turn on your iPhone’s gridlines feature. Your iPhone comes with a built-in grid line which you can use at that to guide you. 

The grid lines are a great help for you when taking macro shots, especially when your focus is insects, flowers, and the like. Such subjects are harder to photograph due to their clumpy and unarranged nature.

Knowing the specific place where your subject will be placed will make it easier for you to take macro shots. Ideally, your subject should be placed in one of the intersections for a sweeter spot and a balanced image. 

6. Angle is everything

Much more than just seeing the small details, macro photography is also about looking at the details from a totally different angle. This means that getting top-notch macro shots will require you to take images from different perspectives. 

Do not just focus on one angle but try experimenting on angles to bring out the best in your subject. The angle from which you are taking the image will have a great impact on the overall outcome of your macro shots. 

Some of the different perspectives from which you can take macro shots include a 45-degree angle, getting down low, or shooting your subject from below with the sky serving as your background. 

With your iPhone’s portability, taking macro shots with such angles is very easy.

Moreover, when shooting macro shots, always remember to offer your viewers something new. Look for interesting details or colors and experiment with them. Play with the angles to discover the best angle that would work for your subject.

7. Choose the right lens

Smartphone camera accessories includes two lenses and clip. One of the lens installed on the phone another one lies close
A macro lens will help you capture clearer and better macro images.

iPhone’s camera nowadays is better than ever with its optical zoom and wide-angle lenses. But these advances do not always work well when it comes to macro photography. This means that taking extreme or serious macro shots requires a macro lens. 

You can choose from a lot of macro lenses, so it helps to know what type of macro lens do you exactly need. Below are some things to consider when planning to buy a macro lens:

  • Design – The multitude of macro lens designs could be very overwhelming. The most common ones are the clip-like lenses and the other ones include the lens that snaps on to your phone. 
  • Price – Just like anything else, the price of a macro lens is something that you should consider when buying. Generally, the price of macro lenses differs and is based on the type and brand. The cheapest macro lens cost around $12 to $15, while the most expensive ones could go as high as $300. 

Once you have purchased a macro lens, the next thing to do is to attach the lens properly. Make sure your lens is properly fitted in the middle, so it won’t obstruct the view.

8. Take Several Images

Taking an incredible macro shot with just one click is nearly impossible unless you have mastered the art of doing so. However, even professional photographers do not succeed with just one shot. Besides, different things could ruin your shot. 

Therefore, taking several shots increases your chance of getting the sharpest image. If you are comfortable with using the standard mode of your camera, then most probably you can make use of the burst mode feature. 

The burst mode feature allows you to take multiple shots in quick succession. You can use this feature by simply pressing and holding on the shutter button as long as you want to take images, release it if you are done. 

With the burst mode feature, you no longer have to worry about not getting that perfect shot. 

9. Carefully choose your background

Macro shot of water drops on orange daisy flower (gerbera).
Having the right background will highlight your subject more.

Sometimes, you tend to focus on your subject alone that you already forget what is behind it— the background. It may seem like a little detail, but the background is actually imperative in macro photography. With a messy background, your image would most likely end up looking detracted. 

Therefore, always make sure that your background looks clean and pleasing. It must not overpower your subject. Instead, your background should highlight or enhance your subject more. 

The best background when it comes to macro photography includes simple scenes and solid colors. In case you are bold enough to use a complicated background, then make sure that it really works well with your subject.

10. Edit your macro photos

One of the best things that your phone could offer when it comes to photography is that you don’t actually have to export the photos you have taken just to edit them. You can just edit your macro shots directly from your iPhone. 

Besides, the iPhone offers pretty good editing options. Nevertheless, you can always download and use third-party apps if you wish to. 

When editing, remember to edit to enhance your photos. There is no such thing as wrong or right when it comes to editing, but if possible, always stick with just right. This means that you should not alter the scene but you have to enhance it. 

Accessories for iPhone Macro Shots

Macro Lens

Your iPhone can already take amazing macro shots, but you can still level up the quality of your images with a macro lens with the like of the Olloclip 3 in 1 or any other lens that you might like. An Olloclip 3 in 1 lens usually cost around $70 and allow shots at 7x, 14x, and 21x. The system also comes with a focussing hood which ensures that all the images you shoot are taken from the right distance and will come out perfectly clear and crisp. 

Tripod

It is no longer new to learn that a tripod is very much needed in all types of photography. When it comes to macro photography, the most recommended tripod is the Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tabletop Tripod. This Italian-made tripod is very compact and can be bought for around £25. The tripod is lightweight, portable and designed to be easy to use which makes it perfect for everyday shots and macro shots. Its rubber soles provide a sturdy grip regardless of the surface where it is placed.

Remote Shutter

In order to keep things more stabilized, a remote shutter is very much helpful. A remote shutter will keep you away from manually clicking the shutter button thus, any movement is minimized. A good remote shutter that you can invest in is the iStabilizer Shutter Remote. 

The iStabilizer Shutter Remote is a multimedia remote that cost around $75. The remote has a volume up and down, previous and next track, play and pause, and mute buttons. When your Camera app is open, the volume up button serves as the shutter release. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is close up photography and macro photography the same?

No, technically, close up photography and macro photography are not the same. Close up photography is about getting as close as you can to your subject without the use of any accessory or application while with macro photography, the size of the image appears equal or greater than the actual size due to special apps or accessories used while shooting. 

How close can I get with the iPhone camera?

The distance to which you can bring your camera towards your subject depends on your iPhone model. But, in most cases, you can go as near as 3 to 4 inches. This distance is close enough to get all the interesting details of your subject. 

Is there a lens that is compatible with a dual camera set up?

Yes, there is. Besides, it is very important that you choose a clip that will work well with your iPhone’s dual-camera nature. You actually have a lot of choices when it comes to lenses that fit with your iPhone’s dual camera set up. Not using a clip-on lens that is not compatible with your iPhone will make it harder for you to achieve your desired results. And, the clip-on lens might pressure the second camera too much and could cause damage to it. 

What is magnification?

Magnification refers to the ratio of how large or small your subject will appear on your camera sensor. In other terms, magnification is the relationship between the size of the subject that appears on the camera and its size in real life. 

What are the basic rules for macro photography?

Macro photography is all about getting as many details as you can with your subject. This means that you are getting an up-close distance with it thus, keeping your camera stabilized with a tripod is very important. Macro shots are usually taken heads-on with the subject rather than shooting from a certain angle. Manual focus is also preferred and if possible, shoot indoors to lessen the harms brought by strong winds and lights. 

What are the best macro shot subjects?

Typical macro shots focus on insects, leaves, and flowers. But if you want to go the unconventional way, feathers, water droplets, cutlery, glass, fruits, vegetables, tissues, and the like also make a good macro photography subject. 

What is “Working Distance”?

Working distance refers to the distance between the filter ring on the front of the lens and the subject. When the working distance is larger, setting the lighting and composition will be easier. A shorter working distance will result in higher magnification. 

Is it really important to have a macro lens?

Yes, a macro lens is very important with macro photography. Sure, your iPhone works well even without a macro lens but having such will bring your images into a totally different level. Macro lenses will give you sharper, more precise images than what your iPhone camera can do. Besides, macro photography entails the addition of an app or an accessory.

Conclusion

iPhone photography has served as a respectable creative avenue for photographers for years already. 

With its high camera resolution and other sophisticated camera features, taking macro shots has been easier than ever. With it alone, you could already take breathtaking shots that could wow anyone. 

Do you have other macro photography tips? Share it with us in the comment section!

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