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How often do you take a closer look at the objects surrounding you? In the hurried pace of our day-to-day lives, we rarely peer into the small things around us, and when we do, they often surprise us. When, for example, we take a walk outside, everything around us is teeming with life that we don’t even notice. Whether we see them or not, the leafhopper shedding its skin, the tiny jumping spider seeking something to snack on, or the frostbitten dragonfly, waiting for the warmth of the Sun’s first rays that would let it fly again, are all there, and we don’t even realize. Macro photography gives us the unique opportunity to discover their extraordinary world, full of peculiar detail, where even gravity is not what we’re used to. It allows us to witness the amazing moments in the lives of our smallest roommates on this planet, or to just wonder at the complexity of their anatomy.

These materials are intended both for beginners and experienced macro photographers. There are entire books written on many of the subjects discussed here.  The purpose of these articles is not to cover all topics in fine detail, but to give the reader a basic understanding of the matter.

I. Introduction
II. Basic terms
III. Equipment

As in any other genre of art photography, in macro photography lighting and composition are paramount. No matter how interesting our main subject is, if we don’t capture it well, the photo would only have documentary value. For this purpose, we need to be able to work with light to achieve the desired effect, and try to compose the shot so that nothing looks out of place. The gear we use is not of particular importance. Every experienced photographer knows this, but since we need some absolute minimum to begin shooting, we will review it first.

I. Introduction
So, what actually do we call macro photography? Where does it begin from and how far does it extend? Before answering these questions, we need to clarify the meanings of the terms “magnification” and “reproduction ratio”.

» Magnification and reproduction ratio
» Macro and close-up photography

II. Basic terms
In macro photography, we need to gain some practical experience before we can take decent shots. This is mainly due to the shallow depth of field and the use of relatively long focal lengths. That’s why first we need to know the theory behind all that.

» Focal length, focusing distance, working distance
» Depth of field and diffraction

III. Equipment
In this chapter, we will take a look at the main equipment that we need in order to start shooting – namely, a camera and an optical system.

» Choosing a single-lens reflex camera body

The most important part of our equipment, besides the lighting, is the optical system. Generally, the best choice is a macro lens.

» Macro lenses – classification and recommendations

Certain accessories can be used to achieve greater magnification using a standard lens that we already have. Their main advantage over macro lenses is their low prices, but we have to keep in mind that they’re usually a compromise with convenience when shooting and the resulting image quality. Possible options are:

» Extension tubes
» Bellows
» Close-up lense
» Coupling ring
» Reversing ring
» Teleconverter

These accessories can also be combined with a macro lens in order to achieve even more magnification.

The gear used for additional lighting will be reviewed in the next chapter.

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