Hi there and welcome back for week 12 of the 2018 photo challenge! This week I’ll be covering macro photography equipment and how to shoot macro photos:


Life is in the details. Get in close and show us the details we usually miss. You don’t need a macro lens to shoot a macro shot.

The challenges for each week are also divided into categories.

The category for this week is…


Technical Aptitude is just as important as creative inspiration in photography. This year’s technical category is primarily focused on in camera processes, however, there will be some post processing techniques included.


What is macro photography?

macro photography equipment example photo

In a nutshell macro photography is simply shooting small items such as flowers, insects and everyday objects like jewelry. The goal for your macro photography is to make that everyday object appear more extraordinary and grandiose than it is.

While DSLR cameras require the use of a macro lens to shoot macro objects, compact cameras and even smartphones have built-in options that will allow them to focus on objects extremely close to the lens in the form of a “flower” button.


What macro photography equipment do I need?

Lenses often have 1:1 ratios, meaning that they can reproduce an object in its actual size based on the focal length range. Some lenses can shoot objects less than an inch away, but a true macro lens will have a 1:2 or 1:4 ratio, meaning it can reproduce an object twice or 4 times greater than its actual size.

If you have attempted to shoot a photo too close with your camera with autofocus on, you’ve probably noticed that the lens whirs and readjusts itself as its trying to focus in on an object but its still blurry. This is because you’re too close to the subject based on that 1:1 or 1:2 ratio.

Based on the magnification that you’re going for, it’s recommended to use a tripod to avoid any blur from hand movement.

For my photography kit I use a SMC Pentax-M 50MM F4 Macro Lens; if you haven’t already I would recommend checking out my review here if you’re interested in how a macro lens stacks up with other lenses.

Weekly Photo Challenge 2018: Shooting Macro Photos

Macro photography equipment header photo

Initially I was planning on doing something like last week’s photography challenge using my studio lights and white backdrop. I scrapped the idea and decided that my fish tanks in my bedroom would be the perfect testing ground for my new macro lens.

It took about ten minutes to shoot; one issue that I have when prepping my lens is that it requires an insane amount of exposure to get the appropriate level of lighting in my photos. I learned to change my settings to prioritize the exposure so I don’t have to constantly tweak that level when shooting.

The fish in my tank are peaceful and will often graze the sponge filter and algae growing in the tank. When they graze they will sort of swim in place and this allowed me to easily take this week’s photo. I have blue mickey platys, orange platys and sunburst platys in my tank; after shooting all three colors I decided to focus on the sunburst platy because their color scheme played the best with the green backdrop from the various plants in the tanks.


Macro Photography Technical Editing Work

This time around I decided to do something a bit different compared to my normal edits. I wanted to take a few techniques I learned from week 10’s photo challenge and incorporate selective color editing in my photo.

To make the orange and black on my platy stand out as the main subject, I reduced the saturation of the green plants to place more focus on the platy in the forefront of the picture. I also took a page from last week’s photo challenge and incorporated “negative space” to make the subject stand out more and even incorporated diagonal leading lines to draw more attention to my subject.

Here are the following edits I made for the photo:

Exposure +0.40

Like I mentioned earlier, my macro lens isn’t great with getting the right brightness straight away, requiring a bit of a boost in post-editing

Contrast +25

I always like to give my contrast a little boost to make the colors pop

Shadows -25

This added to the contrast and provided more “depth” to the subject

Whites +28

By reducing the shadows, it made the photo darker overall, so I bumped up the whites a bit to compensate

Blacks -40

More tweaking to get that right balance between the shadows and whites

Clarity +36

This is another style choice that I have in all of my photos; I like boosting the clarity for added sharpness to the photo

Vibrance +100

This was to make the greens pop more; it didn’t do much for the oranges or blacks in the subject’s body

Saturation +31

More color popping through increased saturation

Medium Contrast Point Curve

I liked the look this gave in last week’s photo challenge and decided to use it again for this photo

Orange Hue -24

Doing this made the oranges in the platy a bit darker compared to the unedited version

Yellow Hue -18

I did this to make the yellows a bit more orange so they blended better in the subject’s body

Yellow Saturation +4

Not entirely sure if this did much but I boosted it slightly

Green Saturation -80

This is where I deviated from my normal editing style (and this is where my saturation edits in the beginning of the editing process are rendered to be a moot point). I wanted the platy to be the main focus, but with how bright of a green the plants turned out to be the subject blended too much with the background and it was almost straining to look at. I played with selective photography editing and I think it looks a lot more pleasing this way.

Orange Luminance -22

I wanted the orange to be a bit darker so I turned the luminance down a bit

Yellow Luminance +22

After my adjustments it felt like the yellows in the body were just a different shade of orange considering the blur, so I adjusted the luminance to make the yellow pop more.

Before and after macro photography equipment photo


Photo Challenge 2018: Macro Photography Wrap Up

What did you think of this week’s photography challenge and the change in my editing style compared to previous weeks? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to share this on social media if you found it to be helpful!

If you haven’t, be sure to check out week 14’s photography prompt where I used my macro lens for triptych photography.


Macro Photography Gear That I Use:

Here are some links for the photography equipment I used in the photo challenge for this week:

White Backdrop Curtain: https://amzn.to/2k1L2ds

Neewer Photography Light Stand: https://amzn.to/2GpKXZS

Neewer Video Photography Lighting Kit: https://amzn.to/2rMYshB

Pentax 50mm Prime Lens: https://amzn.to/2GkrAkB

Pentax  K-50 Camera Body: https://amzn.to/2IjPUJj

Pentax 50mm Macro Lens: https://amzn.to/2Iwb2YV