We Simplify The Technical!

Mike Moats reviews the basics of macro and close-up photography including favorite subjects, lenses and other gear, and tips to make your images unique.

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Episode 160

Basic Macro Photography with Mike Moats


“If you invest all of your time in one genre,
you become more proficient.”


  • True MACRO is shot at a 1:1 ratio.
  • Focus area of subject is only 1 7/8” x 1 3/8”
  • Minimum focal distance is about 10” from camera sensor
  • Shooting this close puts you INSIDE the subject.
  • When you can’t see the whole subject, it becomes more abstract.


Technically refers to anything outside the 1:1 ratio.


  • Find a subject that has character, a uniqueness that sets it apart from the rest.
  • The same subject can become more diverse with a change in background and position.
  • Macro is REALLY affected by wind. Shooting subjects on the ground helps to remove the wind problem.
  • ALWAYS use a tripod. The shutter speeds you will be using are too slow to handhold.
  • Using high f-stops (f/32 – f/54) allows for the whole subject to be crisply focused.
  • Find a camera angle to increase the distance between the subject and the background for background blur.
  • Using a diffuser helps to remove the sheen from leaves and petals and brings out more color. ALWAYS use a diffuser in bright sunlight to decrease shadows and produce soft, even light.

“Macro photography gives you access to unlimited subjects close to home.”

Lenses and Other Gear

  • 60mm prime will focus 10” from subject.
  • Longer lenses – 90mm, or telephoto macro 150-180-200mm give you more working distance from your subject.
  • Macro-specific lenses are designed to focus in closer to the subject – giving the 1:1 range.
  • Some zoom lenses have macro-capability of 1:4 or 1:7.
  • Recommended: Tamron 90mm
  • Tamron 18-400mm can focus on a 2” x 3” area
  • Litra LED cubes can be used to balance light if needed.
  • A standard lens with Extension Tubes can produce images just as well as a macro lens, but can be more of a hassle.
  • Extension tubes allow flexibility within a certain range.

Finding Mike


Macro Photo Club




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Gear Recommendation of the Week


ProMaster Translucent Diffuser

PROMASTER SystemPro ReflectaDiscs reflect light to illuminate detail in shadow areas for more dramatic photos. They are available in a variety of sizes and colors. ReflectaDiscs are portable and easy to setup and use.



















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