9 Fun Beginner Tips for iPhone Macro and Close-Up Photography

It might seem like taking a macro photo is the most natural thing ever. You position your camera very close to the object you want to photograph and press the shutter button - what's the big deal? But if you do just that, you may also be disappointed by blurry, out-of-focus, overexposed, or way too dark photos.
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9 Fun Beginner Tips for iPhone Macro and Close-Up Photography

Is there a simple solution? Check out these nine fun tips for macro photography beginners we've listed right below! They will help you make excellent photos from the very beginning of your endeavors.

1. All the Light We Can See

Soft natural lighting is essential to making an impressively detailed macro photo with your smartphone. Pay special attention to how you position your iPhone and - which is even more critical - when you take the picture. The best time of day is early morning, which is quite convenient because it is when most people leave home for work. In any season, there is an excellent chance to spot a small wonder along the way. The light is also perfect for macro shots in the mid-afternoon.

Best macro photos are made in early morning and mid-afternoon

You might think that the best lighting will only be achieved in broad daylight. However, it will prevent your iPhone from focusing on the object you are trying to photograph. Bright sunshine can also result in a whiteish overexposed photo.

If the only chance to snap a pic is in the blazing sun, try to block its rays by your own body. You can also position the object (or your iPhone) to prevent the sun from shining behind the shot.

2. Hocus-Focus

It sounds like an obvious thing because the focus is an essential requirement for making a good photo in general. However, in macro photography, it becomes extra important, crucial even. You want to set the focus manually to control what your camera is focused on. You also want to practice a lot to improve your skills and start making immaculate shots.

Use autofocus in your iPhone for best results

If you don't have time to work on your manual focus skills yet, rely on the automatic locking feature offered by your iPhone. Just lock it on the object you want to bring into focus and make sure your hands do not tremble. The steps you need to take are as follows: tap the object on the screen that you want to be in focus and hold that tap until you see an AE/EF Lock on the screen. As long as this stays on the screen, your focus and lighting will be fixed. All you need to do is not to tap on anything else on the screen, and you'll be golden.

3. Go Steady

When you're taking a macro photo, you enlarge the object you're focusing on. So, if you move your iPhone even one bit, the shot will be blurred. If you feel macro photos are your passion, you'd better put aside some money and get yourself a tripod. However, if you're only trying hand, this piece of advice will do:

Keep your iPhone steady for a good macro photo

Rely on a stationary object close at hand. Anything will work: a staircase, a rock, a wall, etc. You might also want to bring something you can sit or lie comfortably on, while you're focusing and finding the right angle. A beanbag is a good option: it's not heavy, yet it's big enough for you and your iPhone to fit nicely and get the support you need for a steady shot.

4. Closer but Not Too Close

Picture this: your child is trying to make you see something and bringing this object almost in full contact with your face. Can you see it? No, it's all out of focus. The same happens with macro photos: bring your iPhone just a little too close to the object, and you will get a blur instead of that beautiful flower or snowflake. So, how close you can zoom in?

Do not bring your iPhone too close to the object

The answer is not very helpful: it depends on the model of your iPhone. It will be easier to define the perfect distance through the good old-fashioned trial-and-error method. But it is probably safe to suggest that keeping your iPhone two to four inches away from the object will give you the best results.

5. Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication

A macro photo usually focuses on a single tiny object. At the same time, the things in the background are blurred to prevent them from stealing the viewer's attention. However, if you crowd the background with colorful objects, even blurring will not save you from spoiling the effect of your macro photo.

The best background for a macro photo is a simple one

Texture makes a good background, so think brick walls, wooden fences, paving. A sky is an excellent option, too, whenever you can position the subject of your photo in such a way that there is the sky, and nothing else, behind it. Another useful tip: the farther the object you're photographing is from the background, the more blurred the latter gets, and the more accented the subject of your photo gets.

6. Rule of Thirds

Whether you are a beginner or have some experience in photography, you must have read or heard anything about the "rule of thirds." If not, read up a little - for starters, the Wikipedia article will be more than enough. This rule will improve your photos immensely, I promise! Not only macro - landscapes and other types as well! And it is quite easy to apply, too, especially when you're shooting with an iPhone.

Rule of thirds works for macro photos made with an iPhone

In short, here's how the rule works:

  • mentally divide the photo you're taking as if it was the field for noughts and crosses (with two vertical and two horizontal lines);
  • position the object(s) you want to bring into focus at the intersection(s) of the lines. 

An iPhone helps you with this division by providing a grid that shows you where you should place the object in your macro photo. Move the iPhone to set the intersection over the subject of the picture and use Tip#2 (Hocus-Focus) to focus the camera on it, then snap a shot and admire your result.

7. Experiment with Angles

The camera on your iPhone will help you get a new perspective of the world. These are not just words: the small size of the iPhone lets you crouch close to the ground and snap a pic from below, on the backdrop of the sky.

Take macro photos from unusual angles

Or you can easily hover it directly over the subject of your photo to make the shot more dramatic. Don't be shy, forget about people around - you're an experimental macro photographer! Try different angles to see the world around you in a new way and show your discovery to others.

8. Water Bobble Trick

Remember that 2008 animated story of Tinker Bell? If you don't, here's a heads up: Tinker Bell had a tinker friend Bobble who wore renewable goggles. In fact, he only wore the frames, but he could recreate the lenses anytime there was a drop of water around. Bobble just applied it to the frames and voila - the goggles got magnifying lenses! You can use this children's movie trick for your macro photography efforts. Carefully place a drop of water onto the camera lens on your iPhone, and you will get an absolutely no-cost yet very powerful magnifier. Of course, you can invest in a real macro lens but try out this trick just for fun and see how the photos come out.

Make a no-cost macro lens from a water drop

Just a tiny drop of water will already yield surprising results: a sharp focus on the subject with the edges softly blurred. Do not try to apply huge droplets - they will plop down at the slightest shake of your hand. However, if you can hold your iPhone very still, you can try to attach a larger droplet to your camera lens. You only need to make sure you can take the photo before it drops. And, of course, that you do not get any critical parts of your iPhone soaked.

9. Macro Lens Investment

Making a water lens is a handy trick that can give excellent results when you do have no real equipment on hand. However, a lens designed specifically for macro photography will bring your shots to a totally new level of proficiency and detail. It is easy to attach, too - clip it onto the camera lens on your iPhone. And, which is also very important, it does not cost a fortune: you can get a decent clip-on macro lens for less than $100.

Buy a real clip-on macro lens for your iPhone for best results

If you are an iPhone owner and a keen observer of the world around, macro photography may be your thing. Try the 9 tips we offered above, discover the small things that are worthy of great attention, snap your amazing shots, and become an Instagram phenomenon!

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