Shooting Challenge: Macro

It's been a long time coming. For this week's Shooting Challenge, we're celebrating the tiny - that which is captured through macro photography. And even if you don't own a macro lens, don't fret, there are ways.

The Challenge

Get super up close and personal with something tiny through macro photography.

The Technique

So, first things first, "macro photography" doesn't necessarily refer to capturing extreme close-ups at the minuscule scale. Traditionally, it was just capturing something at 1:1. Now, some new macro lenses (through what may be a bit of bastardization of the term) actually magnify small objects to appear larger than life—a sort of inverse HotWheelism.


Regardless, a macro lens is able to focus when extremely close to an object (where most lenses would blur) and they have an very shallow depth of field (meaning only a bit of your image will be in focus).

So what if you don't own a macro lens? You can always build your own for about $10, but a simpler, and similarly inexpensive alternative might be to add an extension tube or diapter to an existing lens in your arsenal. Your best bet is to simply do a search based upon your particular lens.


From the equipment side, we love this 3-part walkthrough by ShutterFreaks. It just shows examples of various macro solutions. To dig even deeper, will work.

In terms of a bit of inspiration with splashes of practical technique, National Geographic's macro tutorial gallery is about as fun as studying gets.


The Example

You ready for something humbling? The lead photo, by flickr's moron noodle, was taken on a simple Sony DSC-T10 (point and shoot) with a flash firing. Is it as richly colored and intricately detailed as what many of you are sure to share? No, but...what great framing and a fascinating mise-en-scène! (I, uh, may have boosted the contrast a bit as well.)


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced (read more on that above).
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560x1600 sized in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you're using is fine.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, May 16th at 8AM Eastern to with "Macro" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameMacro.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameMacroWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic and Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.


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