Thinking about Composition

Commonly when starting out taking macro pictures, people forget about composition of the picture.

I think this is a fairly natural thing to do, I certainly was guilty of it at the start, as the “WOW! look at that!” effect takes place of getting those smaller things in detail in the view finder takes place.  Also there’s some of the other things that we need to learn, like focusing, depth of field, lighting and getting the subject sharp in shot!

However once we are used to taking some sharp pictures (and I say some as you’re rarely guaranteed to get them all sharp, especially if you take hand held), it’s time to take a closer look at your images and see how well you’re composing them, after all composition is just as relevant to macro photography as it is to the other forms.

Whilst there’s no set rules to composition that you have to follow, below I listed some things that you might want to think about.  As with all “rules” they can of course be broken.

  • Sometimes you can be too close to the subject, backing out and setting the overall scene may help.
  • With insects and bugs, give the subject space to move into. (see the example shot below where the weevil has space to move into the picture).
  • Try to get into eye contact with the subject, getting level with the insect, not just taking from above.
  • Try not placing the subject dead central in the frame.
  • Think about the fore/background.  Is there something distracting there, does the background colour suit etc.

This shot below of the weevil, illustrates the idea of giving your subject “space to move into”.


I think personally that this is where the digital camera user, does have an advantage over the film photographer, as having the ability to review images in the field, certain aspects of composition can be checked, particularly with regard to checking the distracting objects that you may of over looked when shooting the subject.


I've been taking macro photography from 2004. I use both Canon film and digital cameras.

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