Macro photos on a budget: what you'll need to shoot with your iPhone

Pen nibs, features, textures... all of these things look way better under a microscope so to speak... or "macro"-scope?... Bad joke, but hey.

I really like to see macro shots of various fountain pen nibs and inks, but how do you get REALLY close without spending an arm and a leg for a decent camera and macro lens? Better yet, how can you do this with your iPhone?

 Photo taken with Nikon DSLR (non macro lens)

Photo taken with Nikon DSLR (non macro lens)

For most of my reviews I have a Nikon DSLR that I work with which allows for nice depth of field and clear shots, but sometimes I want to take some quick macro shots with my phone, but traditionally, most phones are total garbage if you want a nice, crisp, really good close up.

 Photo taken with iPhone (with loupe)

Photo taken with iPhone (with loupe)

What about in the dark? What do I do then because the picture will get all gritty, but if I use a lamp then I'll get reflections?

I really enjoy sharing these shots and wanted to put together a little tutorial for anyone that may want to take a stab at this themselves.

What You'll Need:

- desk lamp (preferably the kind that you can bend in close)
- "daylight" bulb around 75w which is the pure white spectrum... no yellow incandescent stuff
- a piece of "smoky" vellum around 12"x12" or so (Hobby Lobby sells bigger sheets)
- jewelers loupe at least 10x (10x is good)
- your favorite fountain pen
- simple photo editing app on your phone (Aviary, PhotoToaster...)

All in all, this stuff might cost you around $30 (not including the pen), so wont really break the bank, but will be fun. And, a loupe and lamp are good to have anyway, so easy justification!

Using the Loupe

The loupe acts as our macro lens as many of our phones don't have the best macro features. Some newer phones are progressing in close up type shots, but my phone (those dang contracts...) is lacking.

 The closest "clear"-ish shot I can get with my phone

The closest "clear"-ish shot I can get with my phone

It'll take some practice, but you'll get it. And, try and keep your fingers out of the shot as they will reflect off of the nib...

Whats with the Vellum?

The vellum is used to act as a diffuser of the light hitting the nib. Without it, reflection city.

You'll need to either attach or prop up your small sheet of vellum directly under your lamp so the light bulb isn't "visible" to the nib or pen. The other reason we tape or prop up the vellum is so we can hold the loupe with one hand and the phone with the other.

Also, turn off any other lights in the room. 

With and Without Vellum Examples

So what does the vellum really do?

 Unedited no vellum

Unedited no vellum

 Unedited with vellum

Unedited with vellum

Even without editing the photo, the vellum creates a uniform reflection over the surface, allowing the stamping, tines, and any scrolling to be more visible. Pretty sweet, right?

Editing App

Editing photos is not bad, but overly doctoring them CAN be a bit awkward. #nofilter right?

Even though our photo with the vellum turned out pretty good, a little touch up in the photo editing app can improve the sharpness, shadows, saturation, contrast, by just a smidge to make it better.

 No edit

No edit

 Slight edit

Slight edit

Easy as that!

I hope this post gives a little direction on how to get fun macro shots on your favorite pen, and I'm excited to see what you come up with! Tag me on Instagram @clickypost so I can see your work.