DEPTH OF FIELD IN THE WORLD OF MACRO
One important rule that you have to remember with macro photography is this: THE CLOSER YOU GET TO THE SUBJECT, THE SHALLOWER YOUR DEPTH OF FIELD BECOMES. When you are shooting macro photos with the camera only centimetres away from the subject, you expect the depth of field to be reduced to millimetres or even a fraction of a millimetre. You will often struggle to get any space in front and behind the subject in focus…sometimes you can’t even get the entire subject in focus.
So how do we deal with this. There are a few options.
- EMBRACE IT. Like my little tiny fungi photo, you can use the shallow depth of field to isolate your subject. This is one way to emphasise just how tiny and delicate it is.
- USE A SMALL APERTURE TO INCREASE IT. A smaller aperture (bigger F-stop number) increased depth of field. That’s just basic photography theory. But with a smaller aperture you must also use a slower shutter speed, so be prepared to use a tripod. A lot of my macro photos are taken at shutter speeds of one or two seconds.
- USE A FLASH. Simply by adding a lot more light, you can close your aperture down to a much smaller size without having to sacrifice shutter speed. So flash can be a very effective way of increasing depth of field. But the pop-up flash on most cameras is not usually the way to go, so if you look down this road you will be shopping for a flash setup designed for macro. There is a whole new learning curve to flash macro so I am not going to cover it here…but perhaps it gives you something to think about.
3 second exposure at F-18