Five exercises to improve your macro photography

Five exercises to improve your macro photography

One way to constantly learn and improve your photography is to challenge yourself. Macro photography can be a challenge all on its own.

So, whether it’s a self-created challenge or being part of a bigger photography community that offers challenges, challenges push you to learn new techniques, try different things and grow in your own work.

These five macro photography challenges will help you up your macro game.

One subject, several ways

This is one of my favorite challenges, not just for macro photography.

The challenge is to grab an item and photograph it with your macro lens in as many ways as you can think of. Think angles. Think outside of the norm. Get creative.

Take your time to get the shot and really see it before pressing the shutter release. If it isn’t speaking to you, find a different way to compose it. Move around, and look at it from below and above. Get all the perspectives and angles you possibly can.

Water as your macro lens sees it

The first thing that comes to mind with macro and water is drops. If you don’t have any rain (melted snow will work), grab a spray bottle or mister for creating your own water drops. Experiment by placing a drop or drops on different items in the house or out in the yard.

Refractions also come to mind. Think about those images you’ve seen with candy under a glass piece with water drops on top of the glass. Or, capturing the upside-down reflections of the world outside the drop, within the drop.

macro water running in kitchen sink
Water from the kitchen faucet

Let’s also think beyond the water drop. How else can you use water to create macro images? What about running water macros from the kitchen sink? Go the extra step and freeze some water so you can create macro images of ice.

The “what is it” macro game?

macro of old fashioned flash bulb

Find everyday objects and create abstract macros with them. Create compositions that show bits and pieces or shapes and colors. What you photograph might give the viewer a clue about what it is, but make them guess.

Go searching through the kitchen drawers, your office desk, the toolbox, and anywhere else in the house you can think of.


Photographing textures with a macro lens becomes an exploration of shapes and lines, light and shadows. Search around for different textures in and around the house. Smooth, sharp, bumpy, and jagged are a few that come to mind.

One spot

Now, grab a seat, or chair, sit out in the yard or your garage or even at your desk. Take your macro lens and explore the area you can see from that position. This is a fun one to do when the weather is a bit nicer as you can explore what’s in your yard. You could explore the snow too if you’re up for that!

With any of these challenges or exercises, be creative. Don’t be afraid to just click the shutter to see what you have. If you have a camera that has internal focus-stacking capabilities, take the time to learn how it works.

What these exercises will do is get you to think more about how you can photograph anything. They help you expand your photographic thought process and the next time you are out photographing, you’ll stop and think about these challenges. You’ll stop and be much more thoughtful and deliberate about what and how you photograph. You’ll start looking at and seeing new compositions and ways to create more unique and personal images.

One tip for more successful macro photographs — use your tripod!

When you’ve completed these challenges, be sure to share your results with us in the comments below.

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