Camera Settings


Introduction to Macro Photography


Lesson Info

Camera Settings

Camera settings for success, camera settings for macro success and here, I'll probably start taking a picture or two so you can get a feel for what these images are looking like. Let's talk about exposure mode and we'll talk about aperture and then shutter speed. So, exposure mode, your cameras all have, basically, four exposure modes. You know, they have the program mode, they have manual mode, you have aperture priority, and you have shutter priority. If you're comfortable in aperture priority mode then I encourage you to shoot there, but a lot of macro photographers are really into the nitty-gritty details and so a lot of us shoot full manual. And today, I'll actually be shooting almost all of my photos in full manual mode. That just allows me to kinda slowly work through creating my imagery. Aperture priority is variable by its nature, so if the flower's moving in the wind, this exposure may be a little bit brighter and that exposure may be a little bit darker because it's changing...

the exposure value. So, I'm suggesting manual exposure mode. How 'bout aperture of the lens? That's the diameter of the opening in the back of the lens. We're gonna see here in just a minute that macro photography gives you a very narrow depth of field. Like, at f/2.8, if you're photographing someone's eye or someone's eyelashes, the tip of the eyelash will be in focus and halfway through the eyelash, it goes out of focus, so you need as much depth of field as you can get. I encourage you to shoot at f/16 or f/22, f/32, you know, very small apertures. But I'm gonna show you an image here in a few minutes that I did take at a smaller aperture and even then, the background is completely blurry. In fact, I didn't even get the whole flower in focus, so small, small apertures. Shutter speed, I'm encouraging you to shoot faster shutter speeds. Any wobble that you have, shake, that's just magnified tenfold when you shoot macro photography and you'll get disappointing, blurry shots so lock things down. You know, fast shutter speeds. When I say lock things down, I mean tripod. Use that tripod, use a fast shutter speed. And then, quality. The crazy thing is, is that you want a fast shutter speed but I'm telling you to shoot at ISO 100. And that you all know this, that low ISO means that typically you have to have longer shutter speed, so these two things are kind of fighting each other, but the lower the ISO, the better the quality of your imagery and the higher quality prints. When you blow up a macro photo, you know, 8x10 or 10x20 or something like that, you want all the detail and as little noise as possible. And then, here's a crazy thing, manual focus. A lot of times manual focus is much easier to work with in your macro photography. Autofocus, you're gonna find this happens when you start doing this macro work, because you're so close, the camera doesn't know whether to focus on the front of the flower petal or the middle of the flower petal and it jumps. It'll sit there and it'll jump back and forth, and it'd be really frustrating. So, what I encourage you to do is this, switch your lens to manual focus, okay, then, when you do focus, move your body forward and backward, I'll do it from the side, like this. Body forward and backward, those little, tiny movements are all you really need to get critical focus, if you're hand-holding. If you're using a tripod, well, then you're gonna move the tripod forward or the tripod back. Or you're just gonna rack the focus manually. I think you're gonna find this a more appealing and easier way to work. I've got some other tools here to show you that you can actually, there's little screw adjusters, you can move the camera forward and backward with these macro sliders, but for now, I just recommend manual focus and then, physically moving the camera forward and backward. So, those are settings, those are successful settings, settings that I have had good success with over the years with my macro photography.

Class Description

Learn how to unlock the fantastic world of macro photography. Instructor Mike Hagen details the gear, techniques, and software you’ll need to capture extreme detail in everything from flowers to insects to jewelry. Create larger than life images with intricate detail using methods that Mike clearly demonstrates in this class.


Amy Vaughn

Good class, but I want more. CreativeLive, please get Mike Hagen to come back to do a full 1-2 day macro class. I'd love to see a deeper exploration of all his macro gear, diy toys, demos of Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker, and maybe showing live examples beyond flowers like bugs, abstracts and shooting through water.

ESther IGlich

A good intro course.I learned a lot in a short period of time, but really this class needs to be longer. It felt rushed. Would have liked to seen more on lighting specifically. However given the time Mike had to work in he did a great job and I enjoyed his insights.


I appreciated Mike's suggestions for DIY macro equipment. There is a lot of money you could save with those ideas alone. Great class and I agree ​it would be great to see more!