Macro Photography on a Budget

What’s really needed for macro photography? Well, it depends on what you are photographing and how you desire to tell the story with the picture. Macro photography has many facets and ways to get high quality pictures. The best tool you can have is patience during the process. I don’t like to stage pictures in nature so the amount of equipment that I use in the field is limited because of time constraints and the fact that I also have a limited budget. But that shouldn’t limit one’s ability to get some good shots with basic equipment. I use a basic dslr camera a and zoom lens for most of my macro shots. A solid 100mm, 1:1 macro lens is a good choice for a starter lens.

For me it’s more about the hunt for good subjects and being quick enough to get a good focus to capture the shot. Having an almost still day and the perseverance to take a lot of shots are the keys to getting a couple of good ones. Knowing that a high percentage of them may be unusable due wind and weather conditions. Or the subject not cooperating makes the challenge all the sweeter for me when I get a good, usable shot. I find that, I rarely have enough time to properly position more than a tripod and a small flash before the shot is gone.

I have researched other methods that utilize lots of equipment in the process. Some use multiple flexible lights and alligator clips on flexible arms to hold grass and or flower stems in place or out of the way. But to get the desired shot they would also capture the desired subject and partially freeze it so that it would come back to life slowly. And they still may not get the desired shot.

Another cheap technique for getting close to a subject is to use a reverse mounting ring for a shorter lens. This allows your lens to magnify the subject or subjects if you are trying to include a distant subject for perspective in the shot. To try this out you can place a penny or other small object in front of the lens that sits in front of a larger distant object like a hill or a tree. This can take some practice to get the desired effect.

With any type of photography, the post production can be the most fun and challenging to get the results that you desire for the story that you want the picture to tell. My go to program is Luminar 4. To see its wide range of Ai capabilities, use this link.  It is a lifetime subscription and it is updated frequently. I find that it is easy to use and it has a lot of the tools that other more expensive or subscription-based programs have. I invite you to come and explore the world of macro photography. However, you choose to see the world with macro photography, always “shoot the world with light.” And drop me line with your favorite shots of the small world around us.


The Dragonfly

The distant passing of the path spurred me further into the woods as the light slowly crept deeper into the trees. My path thus far was among boulders and trees along the coast. As I listened to the water lap up against the rocks I rolled up around the corner, along a path that slipped away from the open coast to the secluded trees. As I hunted for a more secluded place to set up my equipment. I was chasing the glow of the morning sun before it appeared in the horizon. As I fought in a hurried manner through the foliage to a small cliff that was hidden from the light of the lighthouse. A place where it would no longer disturb the woods. It was along this quiet cliff that I readied my self for the glory of the King to show itself. In the tranquility of the morning I waited for his finger to reach down and begin painting on the horizon. The colors came forth in new depths and tones as the morning greeted the horizon. They danced along the clouds to a crescendo of yellow and white streaks burst forth from the orb as it was slowly lifted into the sky.

As I bounced back along the path I looked for hidden treasures. The small things that can easily be missed in the business of a morning; as it comes to life for the day.

When I made my way back along the rocks in front of the tree lined path. They were there, almost secretively coming out of hiding. The soft humming from their wings began to rise around me. Their numbers grew as the sun warmed the rocks and trees. I almost squished one as I reached for the small birch tree in front of me. He was the length of my hand. The treasure that I looked for sat almost motionless in front of me. He blended into the depth of the tree almost flawlessly. As I snapped off a few shots, I studied his splendor. His simple structure in ways that I had never seen before. Without warning he lifted off in the breeze not to be seen again.

The allure of macro photography has been an area that I never grow tired of. The simplicity of capturing nature in its smallest forms is a challenging and rewarding type of photography that creates its own set of challenges. For each opportunity that comes before you, the task is different. Whether you enjoy the world with macro lenses or zoom lenses to capture the picture the way your eye sees it is always a challenge. The slightest breeze or a small delay in pushing the shutter can take that once in a lifetime shot and drop it to the depths of just another missed picture. But the thrill of the chase and the patience needed to capture the story makes it worth the effort.

The lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota on a mid August morn is a great place to come and enjoy the challenges of capturing the small world during a radiant sunrise. The subtle beauty of the small world that is often passed by in our busy lives. So come, pull up on a rock and enjoy the rhythmic waves of the lake. And the splendor of the trails that surround the lighthouse. Or come in the evening and be captured by the gentle humming of the wings of nature. Or the beauty of a sunset over the Two Harbors docks.

A beautiful sunrise at the port in Two Harbors, Minnesota.

I invite you to come and “shoot the world with light,” in the world of the small.

About Me

Hi, I am Paul Paschke and I am a freelance writer and photographer from west central Wisconsin. I enjoy exploring God’s creation and sharing the journey with my family and friends. I look forward to sharing the large and small with those around me. The one of a kind moments and those things in life that are often overlooked by the masses. I will share stories of he places that I have been and the things that I found on the journey. I invite you to come along and enjoy the fullness of God’s glory that surrounds us. And the people that make the places unique. Come and see some of the places that I have been.