An Introduction to macro photography
Macro photography is shooting images of objects in real life which are very small. They are so small that they would not even fit the size of the sensor normally. Some people prefer using specialized lenses for that sort of photography. Others prefer shooting with the same set of lenses that they have and simply adding an extension tube or using a reversing ring to use the same lens but mounted in reverse. The approach is always to take the lens a bit farther away from the sensor and focus more closely. At the end of the day macro photography is all about shooting small creepy things and making them look larger than life.
You will have heard about the terms 1:1, 1:2 up to 1:10 magnification in relation to macro photography many times. It points to a scale of magnification for an object which is otherwise very small to fill an entire image sensor from corner to corner (1:1). Imagine an ant (which is quite small), if you are trying to capture it using a magnification of less than 1:1, then the image will look really small. But for true macro photography results a minimum of 1:1 is required.
Depth of field is an important aspect of macro photography. Depth of field is basically how much of the image is in sharp focus. If you can adjust f-stop on your camera then basically you can adjust the depth of field. Using a larger f-stop you will be able create a big depth of field. This will be necessary when you want the entire object to be in sharp focus from left to right and top to bottom. Say you are trying to shoot a ladybug sitting on a leave. The red and black polka dots contrast with the bright green of the leaf. You want the entire lady bug to be in focus while the green leaf to be out of focus. You can start at f/11 and then adjust the settings accordingly till you achieve the desired results. However, working at small aperture causes loss of light and requires slow shutter speed to combat that situation. So, to handle camera shake due to slow shutter speed, a tripod is essential.
In the days of the older SLRs, one needed an array of tools to shoot macro photography. Often these included extension tubes or stacking up two lenses one on top of the other or using close-up filters. Extension tubes were (and still are) one of the favorite tools to bring the lens closer to the object. Extension tubes unlike teleconverters works as a magnification inducer. They simply allow the lens to travel farther away from the sensor unlike teleconverters which increases the focal length. Today with DSLRs and compact point and shoot cameras, it is possible to shoot macro images without even all these equipments. Almost all compact point and shoot cameras have a macro mode. Look for a flower image and turn it on. It immediately sets a larger f/stop and reduces the aperture allowing you to step closer and take a sharp photo. The trick is to ensure that you can take the lens as close to the object as possible allowing it to fill the sensor.