What exactly is macro photography?  Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to send you a message?  I do all the time!  I use that as my excuse to buy things I don’t need – like new cameras or fun toys that I’m curious about (not things I actually need).  Lately, I feel like the universe has been pushing me to get into Macro Photography.

I’ve heard people talking about macro photography a lot, but had never really known much about it.  Over these past few weeks, I have received countless articles in my inbox and on my Facebook feed about macro photography with links to articles about which lenses to use and how to get the best picture with your macro lens.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

So here you go…a close up of a bat. Like I said…I love a good close up – of anything!!

I have always preferred to zoom in on my subjects I’m photographing.  I love a close-up of someone’s face.  I’m not sure why I prefer that, because I know I have missed lots of beautiful backgrounds and surrounding scenes when taking pictures because I love to zoom in!  So when I kept getting emails and seeing articles about macro photography, I thought to myself – maybe it’s time to look into this!

Butterflies, Bugs, and Spiders, Oh My!

Also…there have been so many butterflies, moths, spiders, and bees in my yard lately.  My Lantana is growing like crazy because of our crazy weather here in Texas – it still feels like summer, so the insects have all found their way to my yard.  They are constantly landing on my flowers, and I find myself outside every afternoon with my camera.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens

This beautiful creature was in my yard every day for a week! Amazing, right?

I’ve been chasing after these beautiful, creepy crawly creatures with my Canon EF 70-200 Zoom Lens, and I’ve gotten some great photos.  But…what if I had the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens?  Can you imagine the shots I could get of these beautiful insects?  And, I don’t normally see so many bees and butterflies this time of year, so it must be one of the ways the universe is trying to get my attention.

Well…my husband just asked me why I want to take close up pictures of butterflies and bees.  He suggested I use the lenses I have to take pictures of our kids instead of bugs.  Okay, so he’s not convinced quite yet that I need another new lens.  Give me time…I’ll keep working on him.

But then another sign came in the mail in the form of my Popular Photography magazineand you won’t believe what is on the cover…you guessed it…  There is a giant headline on the cover titled AMAZING MACRO How to Get Your Best Close-Up Shots!  Really?  Now don’t you agree with me?  The universe is trying to convince me to buy that Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens.

For some reason, even after my magazine arrived, my husband still does not see it this way!  He is not on board with the macro lens purchase at all.  I think he feels like it might spend more time on my camera shelf than out on the field with me hunting down cool bugs to photograph.

Then I tried to tell him that all the products and camera gear I photograph for my blog would look great if I was using a macro lens.  He’s still not with me on this lens.  I’ll let you know how it turns out for me and my macro lens.  In the meantime, I was able to borrow a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens from a friend.  I was quite impressed with the shots I got with it.

What is the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens?

On the B&H Photo Video Website, you can read all about this lens.  It is quite impressive.  They describe this way: The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM Lens from Canon is the L-series version of Canon’s popular 100mm Macro lens. As an L-series lens it offers the utmost in optical construction, including ultra-low dispersion lens elements and moisture and dustproof seal structure on the barrel. Its 100mm focal length is effective for portraiture and other telephoto applications and as a macro lens with 1:1 magnification and a 12″ minimum focus distance, it is ideal for life-size close-up imaging.

The lens features Hybrid Optical Image Stabilization with up to 4-stops of shake control for effective low light capture and with the vibration gyro and acceleration sensor it compensates for both angular and shift camera shake during close-up shooting. An ultrasonic focus motor (USM) provides quick and quiet auto-focusing and full-time manual focus override enables precise manual focus eve in AF mode.

A focus range limiting function offers three distance ranges to control the range in which the AF looks for focus, thus reducing focusing time. Internal focus system means that the barrel does not extend when focusing, which is crucial when shooting macro.

I also took a few close-ups of my kids when I was borrowing my friend's macro lens. Not bad, right?

I also took a few close-ups of my kids when I was borrowing my friend’s macro lens. Not bad, right?

What Exactly is Macro Photography?

According to my friends at Wikipedia, macro photography is defined as extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than life size (though macrophotography technically refers to the art of making very large photographs).  By some definitions, a macro photograph is one in which the size of the subject on the negative or image sensor is life size or greater.  However, in other uses it refers to a finished photograph of a subject at greater than life size.

Now, if you’re looking for a more technical definition, I read on the Creative Photography Website that it is much more complicated than what Wikipedia says about it.  Creative Photography says although most people think of macro photography as just another name for close-up photography, this is not technically correct. I could get 20cm from a flower with an ultra-wide angle lens on the camera and it would not be macro – however I could be 50cm away with a 180mm macro lens, and this would be true macro.

The term macro relates to the magnification of the image as it appears on the sensor. For example, if you have a small metal ball 10mm in diameter and the image cast onto the image sensor is 10mm as well, then this is called 1:1 magnification (life size). If it is 5mm on the sensor it is 1:2 (half magnification), and if it more than fills the sensor such that it would be 50mm across it is 5:1 (5x magnification).  

Traditionally, macro meant anything that was 1:1 or higher, although it is widely accepted that 1:2 (0.5 magnification) is still considered macro.  In the world of compact cameras, the term macro has come to mean a camera’s ability to focus very closely on an object.

So there you have it.  For me, it means being able to be very close to your subject and still be able to focus on it!  I love my lenses that I have, but when I shot with the Canon 100mm, I was able to get in so close that I felt like the shot was just that much sharper.  Maybe it’s just me, but I still think there would be plenty of situations in which I would use a macro lens.  Agree??

Macro Bug Photography

I don’t imagine that I’ll ever be that into bugs (I prefer pretty butterflies), but if you’re into macro photography of bugs, or if you’re just interested in bugs, then you must read the article titled Premier Insect Photographer John Hallmén Shares His Secrets for Macro Bug Photography – Bugs Can Be Pretty Beautiful if You Get in Close Enough. 

The article is about a Swedish photographer named John Hallmén, a photographer who loves to photograph bugs so much that he was excited when his child came home with head lice!  Gross, right?  I mean that is dedication to your craft.

This is my friend, Charlotte! She's been living on my arbor for about a week now. I'm afraid to get too close to her, but I'm determined to get some good pictures!!

This is my friend, Charlotte! She’s been living on my arbor for about a week now. I’m afraid to get too close to her, but I’m determined to get some good pictures!!

Even if you’re not into macro photography, click the link to his article to see the amazing (and sometimes creepy) photos he’s taken.  Through his pictures we are able to see the incredible, strange beauty of spiders, pillbugs, and worms, and many other creepy crawly things.  It’s pictures like his that make me want to try my hand at macro!

What’s your favorite lens to use to shoot close ups?  I do love my 50mm lens too, but I’m still hankering for the Canon 100mm Macro Lens.  Would love to hear about your experience with it (or a similar lens).  Have fun, keep taking pictures, and let me know what you think.  Until next time…