Macro photos on your phone: You don’t need a DSLR to take stunning close-up nature shots

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Using a macro lens with virtually any phone digicam, just like the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 ProGalaxy S10 Plus or Pixel 4, means that you can stand up shut on unimaginable particulars and seize a aspect of nature you by no means knew existed. “Macro photography” merely means taking a photograph of a topic in excessive close-up so they seem life-size or bigger within the ensuing picture.

Macro images could make even tiny topics like backyard bugs or flower petals look enormous on display or print, and you will be amazed at how completely different such in any other case mundane issues look when seen so shut.

Best of all, you do not want a lot tools or have to depart your yard to get began.


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Note that whereas I’m utilizing a Galaxy S10 Plus to take the photographs you see on this article, most of the following pointers will apply to any phone, whether or not you are taking pictures on Android or iPhone.

1. Get a macro lens on your phone

The solely factor it is advisable to add to your phone to take macro pictures is a macro lens. I exploit Moment’s macro lens, which attaches to a devoted Moment phone case. Moment’s lenses are on the expensive aspect, however they’re made out of high-quality glass and are among the many very best quality round. The instances match Galaxy S8 ($265 at Amazon) phones and newer, iPhone 6 and newer, the OnePlus 6, 6T and 7 Pro, and Google Pixels too.


Moment’s macro lens produces stunning outcomes.

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You also can discover clip-on macro lenses from corporations like Olloclip (Olloclip’s clip system helps you to connect lenses to virtually any phone). There are a spread out there on Amazon for a lot much less, though I am unable to communicate for the standard.

2. Find your topic: Insects and flowers work finest

Crucial to every little thing is discovering a topic that works effectively in macro. Evidently, it is advisable to assume small. Really small.

The pure world is filled with prospects — simply search “macro photography” in Google and the picture outcomes are dominated by footage of bugs and vegetation. The great point is, looking for this type of wildlife to {photograph} does not imply hopping on a aircraft to a distant nature reserve.

Your backyard or a close-by park will probably be teeming with material. But discovering it may be tougher. My tip is to concentrate to small sections of crops or bushes, looking for any minibeasts which may be clinging to stalks or hiding below leaves. It will be time consuming, however when you get the grasp of discover them and the place they’re extra more likely to be, it turns into simpler.


Finding this tiny little spider was simple — it got here to me!

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Remember although, that is their house. So do not break crops or pull leaves off simply to get higher pictures. Getting a cool image just isn’t an excuse for destroying a habitat.

If bugs aren’t your factor, have a scan for fascinating flowers, leaves, rocks, unfastened feathers or different pure gadgets which may look completely completely different up shut. Even textures on clothes, meals or pores and skin can look fascinating when magnified in a picture.


It does not need to be bugs — preserve your eye out for any fascinating small particulars that would make for an incredible macro shot.

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3. Shoot in guide mode

I virtually at all times shoot in guide mode on my phone when I’m taking creative photos as a result of I’ve a lot extra management over how the completed picture appears to be like. I additionally make sure that I’m taking pictures in uncooked format, which supplies me better management over white stability and colours after I seize a photograph and start modifying.

In most Android telephones — together with the most recent Galaxy S10 Plus — you will discover Pro (guide) mode as an possibility in the usual digicam app. iPhone customers will want an app like Moment, which supplies you guide management over settings, in addition to letting you shoot in uncooked format. I additionally have a tendency to make use of guide focus, which I’ll get to later, and I make sure that I’ve a shutter velocity of not less than 1/125 to counter as a lot of the blur from my arms as potential.

4. Use burst taking pictures

When I’m not taking pictures in guide, I generally shoot within the digicam’s commonplace mode. The predominant cause is as a result of it permits me to make use of burst mode, which takes a number of pictures in fast succession by merely urgent and holding on the shutter button. If an insect is in an ungainly place, or is shifting round, I’ve discovered that retaining my finger on the shutter button, firing off tens of pictures a second is one of the simplest ways to seize shot.


The wind stored shifting the bug on this leaf out and in of focus, however by taking pictures in burst mode, I used to be capable of preserve firing and select the perfect shot afterward.

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By doing that, I preserve the topic roughly in view whereas shifting the lens out and in barely. Hopefully, one of many 70 or so photos will probably be good and sharp.

Most guide modes will not allow you to use burst mode. As a workaround in guide mode, I faucet as shortly as I can on the shutter button to take extra photos, thereby rising the possibilities that not less than considered one of them will look good. With that technique I can shoot upward of 30 particular person photos of every topic, with perhaps solely considered one of them being any good. It’s a hit and miss method, however the hits are well worth the effort!

5. Get the main focus proper, even with out focus stacking

Ensuring your topic is in focus is the trickiest a part of the entire process. Professional macro photographers will typically use a way referred to as focus stacking, whereby a number of photos at completely different focus factors are mixed in put up to attain a totally in-focus topic. That’s tough to attain within the area because it requires the topic to stay fully nonetheless whereas the pictures are being taken. It’s why, sadly, some macro photographers use useless bugs of their work, or ones which have been stored in a fridge to sluggish their actions and subsequently shoot in a managed studio.

The Moment macro lens I exploit offers an excellent close-up view on an insect, however it additionally has an especially slim aircraft of focus — which means that solely a slim sliver of the scene is sharp. Focusing on an insect’s eye, for instance, will probably imply its physique will fall out of focus. While which means it is difficult to get a crisp shot, your background may even be attractively blurry, and also you need not fear fairly as a lot about distracting parts behind your topic.


Getting the main focus proper on this fly’s eye wasn’t simple.

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The method I used most for this piece concerned taking pictures within the S10 Plus’s guide mode, with guide focus set to its closest focusing level. Afterward, I steadily moved the digicam towards the topic till simply the half I needed to look sharp got here into focus, after which I took the image. At that stage of magnification, even a tiny shake will throw every little thing off focus, so it takes a gradual hand.

6. Bring in some additional lighting

As with any type of images, macro images depends on nice gentle falling in your topic. But getting that lighting in the appropriate locations is difficult. I shot many macro photos below the noon solar as the intense gentle helped convey out the colours of the bugs. It additionally allowed the phone to make use of the bottom ISO velocity potential (leading to much less picture noise) and the quickest shutter velocity (for sharper photos).

But looking for tiny bugs within the foliage means you might be searching below bushes or in forested areas the place pure gentle could also be scarce. Another challenge is that you simply would possibly block out the daylight together with your phone, since you will have to get extraordinarily near your topic and the perfect angle could contain casting a shadow.


When the ambient gentle dropped an excessive amount of, I introduced on this RotoLight LED gentle to assist brighten up the topic.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The latter challenge may very well be helped by merely making an attempt completely different angles, however I additionally had nice success with bringing in my very own lighting. I exploit the RotoLight Stealth LED ring gentle, which is battery-powered and may simply match right into a backpack. It’s highly effective sufficient so as to add quantity of sunshine onto your topic and its handheld measurement means you possibly can simply transfer it round to place the sunshine in essentially the most flattering angle. I additionally use the more moderen Rotolight Neo II, which has a a lot larger gentle output, making it higher for lighting macro topics in daylight.

7. Edit for influence

Editing your picture is an effective way of taking a easy image and turning it into a really creative piece of labor. I exploit Adobe Lightroom on Android to edit my pictures, however I additionally work with Snapseed and VSCO.

Typically I regulate the white stability to get a pure and correct look to the colour (and it is even simpler should you’ve shot in uncooked). Then I play with the publicity to verify the highlights aren’t too overpowering and that element hasn’t been misplaced at midnight shadows.


An picture earlier than (left) and after (proper) modifying in Adobe Lightroom on the Galaxy S10 Plus. A easy crop, publicity stability and a few selective brightening on the fly has actually made this picture pop.

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I then edit primarily based purely on what I believe appears to be like good. I’ll use an adjustment brush to “paint” extra gentle into the topic to assist it stand out, and use a vignette to darken the perimeters of the body, thereby drawing the attention extra towards the topic within the center. With nature and wildlife, I wish to make sure that I’m retaining the topic as pure as potential — I prefer to improve the scene, however not alter it — so I keep away from dramatically altering colours, or utilizing robust filters.

There’s no proper or flawed approach to edit, so settle again with a cup of tea and revel in tweaking these sliders to see what you possibly can obtain together with your newly captured set of charming macro pictures.

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