You already have everything you need to shoot amazing close-up images. All you have to do is take the lens off your camera and shoot through it the wrong way round. This ‘reversing’ technique is the perfect introduction to macro, as it’s free. But while it will work with any lens, there are a few things that’ll help you get the best results.
The most important thing is to take care of your lens when holding it the wrong way round – you don’t want to scratch the elements. Once you’ve tried the technique, it’s a good idea to use an older 50mm prime lens – it doesn’t matter if it’s for a different camera type and has the wrong mount, as you’ll be shooting through it backwards. Holding the lens in place isn’t the most elegant solution, so a reversing ring to attach it is a smart option that frees up your hands.
Another reason to use an old lens is it’s likely to have a physical aperture ring that you can rotate to let more or less light through. Modern lenses open or close their apertures automatically when removed from the camera, so using a manual lenses give much more control.
- Set up your background
Have a rummage in your garden for a slow moving insect you can use as your subject. Ladybirds are a great option because they’re vibrant and easy to shoot. When you’ve found one, gently move it onto a clean leaf. For a zingy shot, place a sheet of coloured paper behind it. We chose a bright blue sheet of card to give the impression of a perfect sky on a summer’s day.
- Add some tiny water droplets
Water droplets bejewel macro shots and look fantastic under a macro lens. But, for a tiny subject you need tiny droplets – those from a standard spray are too large. Atomising sprays such as those on perfume bottles release a fine mist ideal for macro droplets. Empty atomisers can be picked up at online auction sites for just a few pounds. Fill one up with ordinary tap water so you don’t harm your critter and gently give it a few sprays.
- Use a reflector for extra light
To inject some attractive catchlights in the water drops, use the white or silver side of a reflector to bounce extra light onto your subject. This will improve the look of the shot and help you shoot at faster shutter speeds. If you don’t have a reflector you can easily make your own very cheaply. See page 50 for the full details. Once you’ve found the best angle to bounce the light, you can prop it in place to free up your hands.
- Take the pic
Mount your lens in reverse and put your DSLR into its Manual mode. Set the ISO to Auto and select a shutter speed of 1/100sec. You’ll be able to see your depth-of=field when looking through the viewfinder, so turn the aperture ring until you have the level of sharpness you like. To focus, put your eye to the viewfinder and rock the camera and lens combination back and forth until your subject is sharp – when it is take the shot and check the exposure and sharpness on your LCD screen.