Composition in Micro Photography

Micro photography is an extreme version of macro photography. This form of photography can be very challenging since it involves getting the kind of magnification that is beyond normal perception. Micro photography allows you to take a unique viewpoint on the subject. Nevertheless, it is a magical experience, able to draw in so much detail and color from a tiny subject such as insects. You can see all the tiny things that make up the shell or all the intricate patterns that you can clearly see in micro photography that you wouldn’t be able to notice if it was simply just on the palm of your hands. Since the nature of micro photography entails the subject to magnified more than the macro magnification, one has to be careful about what is seen on the viewfinder before taking the shot because this will have an enormous impact in the overall composition of the photo.

It is a huge failure on a photographer’s part to not take careful attention to composition when performing micro photography. There’s nothing more important or pleasing to the eye than the careful framing of the subject in contrast to setting up all the gear, the lighting, where to place
your camera, etc.


The depth of field in an image is reduced when the magnification is increased, thus reducing the area in which the image is in sharp focus. This is why composition is key when doing micro photography. The decrease in the area of focus means you have to choose which areas of the subject you should place that focus on. The level of magnification entailed here also makes it difficult to maneuver the camera as the slightest adjustment
or motion can completely put you out of focus, or, not have the subject in the viewfinder completely.

To make up for this limited amount of depth of focus, one must be very careful of what to include in the final image. If we take the example of having an insect as the subject of a micro photograph, there are a couple of key decisions to be made. If deciding whether or not the entire
subject’s body should be in the final image, an important saying to remember is to “cut hard, not all”. This means that there is a great deal of difficulty when trying to fit that whole body in the image, so one should tend not to do so. Shooting the whole body and keeping it in frame would mean shooting at a relatively small magnification ratio.

One should then capture the areas that makes the subject unique. Going back to the example of insects, there are many ways you can do this. A particular species could have a unique set of eyes, or long antennae, or they could be performing their unique way of ingesting a meal. Whatever the case, one should retain maximum sharpness throughout, adjusting the angle of your camera so that the plane of focus will coincide on that unique aspect of the subject. It won’t hurt to play around with it too.

Unique viewpoints and unique subjects are all what micro photography is about. Imagine yourself in the viewpoint of your tiny subject, or at least in the world of the tiny subject, and you can get a sense of what to look for. Because that is what micro photography wants to capture at the end
of the day – to live in the level of the subject and to immerse oneself in the wonders of all that is seen that wasn’t seen before.

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