The iPhone has become the main camera for many people, and even if you can snap some great candids, you can also take some amazingly good macro shots. Here are some great tips to make the most of iPhone macro photography:
1. Avoid camera shake by holding your breath
To get the best results, you’ll want to reduce camera shake as much as possible, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to breathe deeply and shoot between breaths. Breathe slowly and take the shot right after you exhale, when you have a few seconds of steadiness.
2. Snap the picture from the earbuds
Another way to reduce camera shake is to put the phone down after you lock the focus and take the shot using the earbuds. With the earbud headphones connected to the iPhone, launch Camera app and click the + plus (volume up) button to snap a picture. This technique works best if you use a little tripod, but you can also place the iPhone against a rock or something similar.
3. Use exposure & focus locking
When taking macro shots, the smallest movements can totally change the camera’s focus. Use the Exposure & Focus locking feature to get your subject in focus and eliminate any jitters that would mess up the focus.
Simply aim the camera at your object, tap and hold on the part of the screen where you want to lock the Focus & Exposure. When “AE/EF Lock” shows at the bottom of the screen, you’ll know it’s active. To release the AE/EF lock and select a new focal point, tap anywhere on the screen at any time.
Camera+ is a great photography app that gives you incredible control over the image composition. Using its “Touch Focus” and “Touch Exposure” features, you can set the exposure and focus just the way you want it. This gives you more control than using the AF/AE lock function, plus it has a “Stabilizer” option, which can help reduce lens shake in long exposure shots.
4. Magnifying glass
Another easy ways to take macro shots with your iPhone is to use a magnifying glass (hand lens). First, check that it will give you what you want by just holding it in front of the camera to see what scale you get. Then hold the extra magnification spot on the magnifying glass up in front of the iPhone lens and take the shot.
5. The jeweler’s loupe
Unlike a hand lens, a jeweler’s loupe doesn’t have a handle and the lens is enclosed in an opaque cylinder or cone. The great thing about loupes is that you can find them in many different magnifications. Given their teardrop design, you can easily hold them to the iPhone and put your fingers through the ring and fix them to the camera.
Before using this technique, though, consider the following pointers. First, the iPhone camera isn’t built to focus as closely as you are now asking it to focus, so you should secure the loupe in position and then move your iPhone back and forth until the lens eventually finds the desired focal point.
Next, make sure the size of the loupe is large enough to cover the lens of the iPhone. If the loupe is too small then your photos will get a slight vignette around the corners. While this might not be a bad thing, it will affect your compositions.
Finally, make sure to select your backgrounds accordingly and keep in mind the vignetting effect that will be created with such a short focal length.
6. Shoot in HDR mode
Using the iPhone’s built-in HDR mode can often yield surprisingly good shots. HDR works by merging multiple images at different exposures and combining them to level the shadows and highlights, and when used correctly it can create very sharp images. To enable HDR, go to Options and select HDR.
7. The water drop trick
Applying a small drop of water on the lens will turn it into an amazingly practical macro lens. A big drop, ready to fall, however, will magnify intensely so you’ll need to hold the iPhone still just a few millimeters above the subject. A huge droplet will increase distortion around the edges, providing sharp focus at the center of the drop and a gradual softness at the edges.
This technique will amplify any movements while taking the shot, so take the shot in bright daylight and use a fast shutter speed to minimize this issue. If you’re worried about getting your iPhone wet, be cautious and only use a small droplet to the lens.
Here is a quick video that shows you how to effectively use water drop technique.
8. Credit card magnifier
If you’re not too excited about carrying around a magnifying glass, consider getting a credit card sized magnifying reader. You won’t get the quality of a magnifying glass, but you can’t beat convenience. Slip it into your wallet and use it every time you want to snap a macro shot with your iPhone.
A credit card magnifier not only works well with still shots, but also when using the camera in video mode. You can simply hold it in front of the iPhone lens and secure it in position using rubber bands.
9. An external macro lens
If you want nothing but the absolute best macro shots from your iPhone, you’ll need to get an external macro lens.
• The Olloclip
The Olloclip is a 3-in-1 camera lens for the iPhone that comes with a fisheye, wide-angle and macro lens. You slide the Olloclip on to the corner of your phone and align it over the lens. If you want to switch from one lens to another, just flip it over to use the lens on the other side.
Here is a shot taken with the Olloclip:
To get to the macro lens, simply unscrew the wide angle lens. The $70 Olloclip allows you to take super close macro shots with amazingly high detail. Watch a quick video presentation here.
The Jojo lenses work with iPhone, as well as other devices, including Android smartphones. You also get a variety of lenses, including a fish eye, a macro and wide angle lens, as well as a telephoto lens. Each lens comes with two magnetic rings that make it easy to attach the lenses to your phone.
The lenses work on virtually any device that has a camera small enough to fit in the ring, including your webcam. Some of you might prefer the Olloclip design just because everything is in one place, while others might choose the Jojo lens kit for its versatility.
Stability is key in macro photography – as even the smallest movement can cause you to miss interesting details. Good lighting is also important – try to use ambient light or diffuse light from a lamp and don’t use the built-in flash unless you have to. Also, you will capture the best colors during the golden hour (the first and last hour of sunlight during a day).
Become an explorer. Pay attention to things that you wouldn’t normally notice – often the most exciting patterns can be found where you least expect them. Practice makes perfect. Experiment as much as you can. And most importantly, be patient. Draw your inspiration from other people’s work and you will eventually develop your own style.
Get curious in your explorations of the tiny things and come back to share your results.