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Macro photos: How to make amazing close-ups of insects with every phone


Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The use of a macro lens with just about any phone camera like the iPhone 1

1 iPhone 11 Pro Galaxy S10 Plus or Pixel 4 allows you to experience this incredible Details up close and experience a side of nature that you never knew existed. "Macro Photography" simply means that you photograph a subject in extreme close-up so that it appears full-size or larger on the resulting image.

Macro photography allows even small subjects such as garden insects or flower petals to look huge on the screen Or print, and you'll be amazed at how different such otherwise banal things look up close.

Best of all, you do not need a lot of equipment or need to leave your garden to get started.

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Andrew Hoyle / CNET

Note that while I use a Galaxy S10 Plus to capture the images shown in this article, most of these tips apply to all phones, regardless of whether you're using Android or iPhone ,

. 1 Get a Macro Lens for Your Phone

The only thing you need to add to your phone to take macro shots is a macro lens. I use the Macro Lens of Moment attached to a special moment phone case. Moment lenses are expensive, but they are made of high quality glass and are among the highest quality ever. The cases fit for Galaxy S8 ($ 500 at Best Buy) Cell Phones and Newer iPhone 6 and newer OnePlus 6 6T and 7 Pro and also Google Pixel .

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Andrew Hoyle / CNET

You can also find attachable macro lenses from companies like Olloclip (Olloclip's clip system lets you attach lenses to just about any phone). Amazon has a lot for a lot less, although I can not speak for the quality.

. 2 Find your motive: insects and flowers work best

The key to everything is finding a motive that works well in macros. Obviously, you have to think small. Really small.

Nature is full of possibilities – just search Google for "macro photography" and the images are dominated by images of insects and plants. The great thing about it is that trying to find this type of wildlife for taking photos does not mean flying to a remote conservation area by plane.

Your garden or nearby park is likely to be full of themes. But it can be harder to find. My tip is to pay attention to small parts of plants or shrubs and to pay attention to mini stigmas that stick to stems or hide under leaves. It can be time consuming, but once you know how to find them and where they are more likely, it will be easier.

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It was easy to find this little spider – it came to me!

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

But remember that this is their home. So do not break plants and do not peel leaves to get better shots. Making a cool picture is no excuse for destroying a habitat.

If insects are not your thing, look for interesting flowers, leaves, rocks, loose feathers or other natural objects that might look very different up close. Even textures on clothing, food or skin may look interesting when magnified in a picture.

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. 3 Taking Photographs in Manual Mode

I almost always take manual mode on my phone when taking artistic pictures, because I have so much more control over what the finished picture looks like. I also make sure that I shoot in raw format. This allows me to better control the white balance and colors after taking a photo and starting to edit.

On most Android phones – including the latest Galaxy S10 Plus – you can find the Pro mode (manual) as an option in the standard camera app. iPhone users need an app like "Moment" that allows you to manually control the settings and shoot in raw format. I also use the manual focus, which I will discuss later, and make sure I have a shutter speed of at least 1/125 to minimize the blurring of my hands.

. 4 Using continuous shooting

If I do not shoot manually, I sometimes shoot in standard camera mode. The main reason for this is that I can use the burst mode, which shoots multiple photos in quick succession by simply pressing and holding the shutter button. If an insect is in an awkward position or moving around, the best way to shoot several dozen photos per second is by holding down the shutter button.

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The wind moved the beetle further in and out of this leaf, but by shooting in the burst Mode I was able to continue firing and then choose the best shot.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

In this way, I roughly keep the subject in view while moving the lens in and out of it easily. I hope one of the around 70 pictures is good and sharp.

You can not use burst mode in most manual modes. To work around the problem in manual mode, I tap the shutter button as fast as possible to take more pictures, increasing the likelihood that at least one of them looks good. With this method, I can record more than 30 frames of each subject, of which only one may be good. It's a punch or bust technique, but the punches are worth the effort!

. 5 Adjust the focus correctly, even without focus stacking

The hardest part of the task as a whole is to make sure your subject is in focus. Professional macro photographers often use a technique called focus stacking, in which multiple images at different focus points are subsequently combined to obtain a fully focused subject. This is difficult to achieve in the field, as the subject must remain completely calm during recording. Unfortunately, some macro photographers use dead insects at work or in the refrigerator to slow down their movements and then photograph them in a controlled studio.

The instant macro lens I use provides a brilliant close-up view. Looking at an insect, but it also has an extremely narrow focal plane – which means that only a thin strip of the scene is sharp. For example, if you focus on the eye of an insect, your body probably becomes blurred. This means that it is difficult to take a crisp shot, but your background is also attractively blurry and you need to worry less about distracting elements behind your subject.

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It was not easy to focus exactly on this fly eye.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The technique I used most often for this piece was to shoot in manual mode on the S10 Plus with the manual focus set to the nearest focus point. After that, I moved the camera steadily towards the subject until exactly the part that I wanted to focus on became sharp and then took the picture. At this magnification level, even a tiny shake turns everything out of focus, so a steady hand is required.

. 6 Bring in extra light

As with any kind of photography, macro photography also sheds light on your subject. But placing that light in the right places is difficult. I took many macro shots under the midday sun when the bright light helped highlight the colors of the insects. In addition, the phone could use the lowest ISO sensitivity (resulting in less image noise) and the fastest shutter speed (for sharper images).

However, if you try to find tiny insects in the foliage, you may be able to hunt under bushes or in wooded areas where there is little natural light. Another problem is that you may be fading the sunlight on your phone because you need to be extremely close to your subject, and the best angle may include casting a shadow.

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When the ambient light dropped too much, I used this RotoLight LED light to lighten the subject.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

The latter problem could be solved by simply trying different angles, but I also had great success in bringing in my own lighting. I use the RotoLight Stealth LED ring light, which is battery powered and fits easily in a backpack. It's powerful enough to give your subject a good amount of light. Its hand size allows you to easily move it to bring the light into the most flattering angle. I also use the newer Rotolight Neo II, which has a much higher light output and is therefore better suited for lighting macro objects in daylight.

. 7 Edit on Effect

Editing your image is a great way to capture a simple image and turn it into a truly artistic work of art. I use Adobe Lightroom on Android to edit my recordings, but I also work with Snapseed and VSCO.

Usually, I adjust the white balance to get a natural and accurate look of the color (and it's even easier if you shoot) raw). Then I play with the exposure to make sure the highlights are not too cluttered and that no details are lost in the dark shadows.

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An image before (left) and after (right) editing in Adobe Lightroom on the Galaxy S10 Plus. A simple cut, a well-balanced exposure and some selective lightening really made this picture burst.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

I then work on what I think is good. I can use a setting brush to "paint" more light into the subject to emphasize it, and use a vignette to darken the edges of the frame, directing the eye more towards the subject in the center. With nature and wildlife I want to make sure that I keep the subject as natural as possible – I want to improve the scene but not change – so I avoid changing colors dramatically or using strong filters ,

There is no right or wrong method to edit. So sit back with a cup of tea and enjoy modifying these sliders to see what you can achieve with your newly captured set of mesmerizing macro photos.

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