One important aspect when taking macro photographs is to check what is in the background of the shot for distracting elements. This can be bright sky, twigs, bright colours etc that distract the viewers attention from the image.
With digital photography you have the advantage of being able to check this in the field instantly. For subjects that are static, like flowers then this can be done via any liveview function that your camera may have, if not then the preview of the shot is another way of checking in the field.
If using a film camera or a digital camera with a poor viewing screen, then carefully looking through the view finder can spot these problems too. Use of the depth of field preview helps here, as when using the live view function on a digital camera.
Sometimes the distraction is fairly close to the subject. For example in this fungi shot the grass is almost immediately behind the subject.
Fungi taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens in New Forest, Hampshire. ISO 100 F4 1/40 Natural Light, Tripod.
A quick tidy up of the background with a pair of scissors to mow the grass and the shot is improved I think you will agree, as shown below, although there is still some apparent grass further back. Shooting at F4 as in the previous shot would probably blur them out.
Fungi taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro Lens in New Forest, Hampshire. ISO 100 F7.1 1/13 Natural Light.
Almost more annoyingly the background can be affected from objects not so obviously close to the subject. In this following example the shot is slightly affected by some vegetation in the far background causing some annoying streaks to show up in the shot.
Field Horse Tail – Equisetum arvense (background distracting). Taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens. ISO 400 F4.5 1/1000 Natural Light. Tripod.
Bending the vegetation temporarily out of the way and re shooting, creates a much more smoother and pleasingly clean background.
Field Horse Tail – Equisetum arvense. Taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens. ISO 400 F4.5 1/1000 Natural Light. Tripod.
I hope these two examples help demonstrate that it is worth checking the background of your shots for distractions. It is all to easy to overlook this in our excitement of getting the subject in focus. With static subjects, the opportunity to check and re shoot is there. Other shots of course require more careful framing to avoid.