Mobile Macro Photography: With Kathy Linford

May 9, 2018 0 Comments

No matter where you go, you can still take a good macro image!  Kathy Linford is sharing some tips on her use of mobile macro (using a clip-on macro lens with her phone), so she can find the details all around her no matter where she is!  There isn’t a lot of gear involved, and it’s much more discreet than shooting macro with all the big camera gear!

In April of 2016, I took the class The Art of Macro from Tiffany Kelly, right after my father passed away from Alzheimer’s.  It came at the perfect time as I found the simple act of shooting macro to be very therapeutic. I can get lost in time moving around a subject trying to find the right angle for the shot.  As far as mobile macro lenses go my daughter gave me a set of them for Mother’s Day that same year and I was amazed at the quality of image I could get with a $15 clip on lens!  It is so easy to keep in my purse and pull it out whenever I see something interesting. The first image I took was of a ladybug on a little flower when I was sitting at an outdoor cafe.  I was hooked immediately!

It’s all about the light when shooting macro, so this is what I look for first. If the light is flat the image won’t be nearly as interesting.  Light is what gives you dimension and depth in macro. Backlight is probably my favorite light followed by side light.  My absolute favorite place to go this time of year in the Spring is the garden center. Lowes, Home Depot, Fred Meyer…you name it!  They are full of color and varying light hitting the flats of plants. I like to find subjects that have texture to them.

I have two different macro clip on lenses that I got from Amazon for very little!  One is a 12.5X wider angle macro which will get most of a small flower in the frame and has a wider depth of field.   The other one is a 10X macro lens that just gets a small sliver of focus and creates a smoother background. I also have the set of Lensbaby mobile lenses and one of them can do some good macro!  Those ones are pretty spendy though.

The most challenging thing about mobile macro photography, is nailing FOCUS! There is definitely a learning curve to getting the focus where you want it with mobile macro photography.  Be prepared for lots of tossers 🙂  At least for me it is quite difficult to hold my hand steady when the phone sets focus.  I have found that holding my arms in really close to my side and hovering my thumb over the shutter button helps.  I also set a wider stance to brace myself a bit.  If possible I rest my elbows on a solid surface and create a tripod with my arms.

One of the best things about mobile macro photography, is that I always have them with me so if I am on a hike or at the store or at an outdoor coffee shop and I see a cool looking plant in pretty light you bet that I will find my way over to it.  I am typically standing and just move the phone around the subject but will sit on the ground sometimes if something is in the ground or a low pot.  It makes it a little easier to get a good shot that way because I can rest my arms on my knees to stabilize them a bit.

To better get the subject I want, I physically move my body around the subject to look for the best angle.  I try shooting from above and from the side or from the bottom looking up.  I definitely try to create an uncluttered background in order to make the subject stand out. 

There are soooooo many different kinds of flowers, I never get bored of shooting them!!!  And the same flower looks different depending on the time of day and direction of light.  No such thing as boredom with macro!

The beauty of shooting with your phone is that there is very little editing to do.  You can see immediately if you got a good image and easily toss it if it didn’t work.  I sometimes use the Mextures and Formulas Apps to add textures to the images.  It is a great time waster when I am waiting for kids at school to play with those editing apps 🙂

And just in case you’re wondering…don’t think that phone macro images are not good enough quality to print.  I have had note cards and a 12X12 canvas made from one of my images and the quality is fantastic!!

Kathy Linford likes to call herself a photography nerd and lives in Spokane, WA. with her husband and teenage daughter.  Macro/Nature and Street/Architectural photography are her favorite things to shoot. Her favorite lenses to shoot with are Lensbaby lenses and she also loves to create photo Mandalas from her images.  She is a Click Pro with Clickin Moms and has a website to share her work under E Squared Designs.  She plans to start an Etsy shop soon to sell greeting cards and bags as well as prints.  You can find her work on Instagram here.

Emily Hamson

I'm a mom of 4 wild boys, who photographs mostly nature (partly because they don't run away or pull faces at me like my boys do). Being behind my camera is my therapy! In 2017 I decided to embark upon a personal photography project to find more creative ways to use my camera, and the CIC was born. I love to learn anything that goes along with photography, but I really love helping others learn new techniques even more!