Have you ever taken a close up of something, only for the resulting image to come out blurred. This is usually because you haven't used Macro mode. Most cameras will only take pictures sharply if you're 20 cm or further away. If you want to go closer than this you'll need to use macro mode. The actual distance you can get close to the subject varies between models. Older cameras had a cut off point of between 10 and 8 cms, but today it's usually between 8 and 5 cms. The more expensive your camera, the closer you can get. Many bridge cameras have a Super Macro mode that allows the user to get as close as 1 cm away.

The most natural subjects for macro work are flowers for normal macros and insects for super macros. The picture on the left was taken with my 12 Mp Kodak. It's a good basic camera, on a par with most entry level models. There's a reason it's such a stunning macro. Firstly, the camera has a very good macro mode, and just as importantly, it was taken in a garden that's open to the public and is a pay to entrer attraction. Wherever you get gardens like this (such as RHS or stately homes), the quality of the flowers on display is much more photographic

This Christmas cracker is a great example of use of depth of field with macro photography to create a great image. The further along the cracker you look, the more blurred the image is. It makes an attractive image. The blurred portion of the image is known as Bokeh (pronounced bouquet or boka). It can refer to the blur itself, or the artistic quality of the blur (good bokeh or bad bokeh).

The macro setting has been used to ensure the end of the cracker is sharp, and the rest of the image is out of focus. To achieve this, the lens had to be at least 5cms (my camera's minimum distance for macro photography) from the subject. If I'd moved it closer, then the portion in focus would have been further along the cracker.

It's easy to recreate with any item with similar proprtions, like a remote control, a fork, a pen, a sausage or something of a similar length. Turn macro mode on (tulip icon) and move the lense close until the end nearest the camera is sharp, and the end furthest away is blurred. Take the shot and enjoy the results.

The opposite effect is shown in this next image of a Christmas card. The front of the image is blurred whilst the rear is in focus. The artistic quality of the blur enhances the shot. Try it yourself at home. You can use a card or a page of text. Set to macro mode and use the screen to check what's in focus and what's blurred. It  can also be created by using manual settings with a wide aperature. Again, use the screen to see what's sharp and what's out of focus.

As I mentioned earlier, the effect can be used with pages of text. The spectacles were added for artistic effect. The sharpness varies across the photo. The text in the foreground to the left is sharp, as is all the rest of from text about one inch fom the bottom to about one inch from the top. From that point upwards the remaining text is slightly blurred. This produces a pleasing effect .

If you have a text mode, selecting it should ensure sharp text.

Macro photography is also great for photographing small images, such as screws, insects, and other tiny objects. Obviously, the smaller the object, the closer you need to be. You need to select the Super Macro option for really tiny objects to avoid blur. As with all macro photography, use the screen to ensure it's focused. For stunning macro photos and more inspiration on Flickr click here.

Our last macro is of christmas tree baubles. The front branches and big red bauble are perfectly in focus, with some nice rays of light coming from it. The other two baubles and branches are pleasantly out of focus, as are the orange lights. Softening the focus on the lights gives them a pleasant diffused effect.

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