There's nothing like getting up close and personal, and that holds true for photography, even iPhoneography. Life is full of small, interesting things -- a flower, an insect, your newborn's tiny toes -- and these things make for great photography.
This week's iPhone photography project is, you guessed it -- macro! Macro simply means close-up photography -- not zoomed, but the lens being physically close to the subject. The keys to good macro photography, even on an iPhone, are becoming familiar with the focus distance of your lens and nailing that focus, light, composition, and making your subject stand out.
Macro photography is, by definition, close-up photography, but that doesn't mean you can get as close as you want. If you get too close, the lens will not be able to achieve a focus. I don't know the exact distance, but somewhere around 4 inches is the minimum focus distance of the iPhone's lens. So if you're struggling with locking a focus, back up.
How many times have you attempted to focus on your subject only to have the the lens tease you by immediately losing focus or losing focus while you're busy perfecting your composition. This is why taking advantage of the somewhat hidden AE/AF lock feature is so helpful with macro photography.
When enabled, AE/AF lock preserves the focus and exposure on the lens so that you can recompose your shot without either of these settings being changed. To enable it, just hold your finger on the screen at the spot you want to be in focus until the blue square pulsates. When you release, "AE/AF Lock" will appear at the bottom of the screen.
I recommend always use AE/AF lock when taking macro photos for composing your shots, but you can also use it as a way to combat those times when your iPhone refuses to focus. When this happens, find something else that your iPhone will focus on (keys usually work and are something I always have with me) and trigger AE/AF focus on this object. Then remove that item from the frame and move closer/further to your subject until it's in focus. Then fine tune your composition and trigger the shutter!
Light is the most important element to good photography, but since macro photography means you're getting close to your subject, it's very easy to accidentally block your light source. Be aware of this and make it a priority to allow as much light as possible to fall on your subject. Sometimes this means positioning yourself in a very awkward way, but trust me, it's worth it.
You may have heard of terms like "bokeh" and "depth of field" thrown around in regards to photography. Bokeh refers to the part of the photograph that is out of focus (more specifically -- the quality of the out-of-focus area) and the range of focus is called "depth of field". A photo with a shallow depth of field means that the range of focus is very small. This is often times a very desirable trait for a photograph to have.
Obtaining a shallow depth of field is a combination of focal length, aperture, and distance to your subject. With an iPhone, the only thing you can control is distance and since the closer you are to the focused area, the shallower the depth of field, macro iPhoneography is your opportunity use the out of focus area to enhance your photograph.
One thing that people commonly forget is that the surroundings and background of your photo have a great impact on the final image. If the out of focus area of your photo is related to the main subject, it ties everything together nicely and makes for a more interesting photo.
Your assignment for this week is to go out and take some killer macro shots then head over to the Photography Forum, ask questions, share your results, and offer feedback to your fellow iPhoneographers!