How to Process Macro Photography for Stunning Results

How to Process Macro Photography for Stunning Results

Shoot in RAW for the Greatest Processing Flexibility

If you want to be able to do beautiful macro photo processing, then you absolutely must shoot in RAW.

You see, your camera offers two main file formats.


JPEG is a compressed file format. Some of the information captured by your camera is discarded. And this affects your ability to post-process the image.

On the other hand, RAW is an uncompressed file format. When you shoot in RAW, the image file retains all of the information captured by the camera.

And this means that you can do a lot more post-processing.

For instance, you can bring out details in the shadows. You can easily alter the white balance. You can make significant changes to the overall exposure.

This is why you must shoot in RAW for the best macro processing experience.

Use the Histogram to Set the Exposure for the Best Detail

When you’re post-processing photos, I suggest you start with exposure.

Because correct exposure gives you an overall sense of the scene. And it’ll help you determine how to want to continue processing your image.

In general, you should have one main goal when initially setting the exposure.

Preserve as much detail as possible.

Set the White Balance to Fit the Overall Mood

The white balance determines the color cast (or lack thereof) in your macro photos.

With white balance, you can make your photos look cold, warm, or somewhere in between.

This is important for two main reasons.

First, abnormal color casts in macro photos just look, well, bad .

And second, carefully-chosen color casts enhance the mood of your photos.

For instance, if you’ve taken an ice abstract, an orange color cast will look terrible. But it makes sense to add a bit of a cold, blue tone to your photo to enhance the coldness of the shot.

When it comes to determining the white balance, I recommend you experiment with the temperature slider. Start on the cold end, and work your way through the mid-range temperatures, all the way up to warm.

Pick the color temperature you like best!

Crop and Straighten for the Best Macro Composition

In macro photography, you’ve got to choose a composition that’s simple and powerful.

And while it’s best to get the composition right in-camera, you should still use the crop tools to fine-tune it.

In particular, aim to create a composition that really isolates your subject and makes it stand out. Not getting close enough is a common problem–so crop to make sure that hasn’t happened.

You should also check how your composition conforms to the rule of thirds. If your photo is almost following the rule, you can crop it a bit to bring it in line.

Plus, you should make sure that your photo is level. That’s where the straightening tools come in.