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by Phil Ball

Q. My compact camera has a macro mode but I’m not sure how to use it to take pictures of some of this spring’s beautiful flowers.

A. Macro refers to images in which the subject is presented at a larger than normal size, like looking at something with a magnifying glass.  Macro mode allows the lens to focus much more closely that usual.  It is difficult, even impossible, to get everything sharp from front to rear of the subject.  Here are some tips to help you do this:

1) Stay within the camera’s focus range for macro shots.  Check your owner’s manual to find out what focusing distances your macro mode covers.

2) Try to keep the camera parallel to the subject which minimizes the out of focus areas.  Basically, macro photos will be less in focus than with other types of photography.

3) When shooting macro, slight camera movements are magnified so it is important to hold the camera steady.  You must either use a tripod, use a camera with image stabilization, or hold very still.

4) Lighting also presents problems with macro shots.  Ambient light works best but when you are so close, your own shadow can be a problem.  Using your flash is tempting but that can bleach out your subject.  So, if you must use a flash, diffuse it by covering the flash with a handkerchief or tissue.

5) Use the LCD screen for viewing, not the optical viewfinder, because it shows a more accurate view.

Published: Courier 6/7/09 - Page 5C