”The term “macro” is used very loosely and tends to mean any photographic situation where you get close to the subject.
Real macro photography is where you are working around 1:1 ratio and closer thereby giving an image on film that is equal in size or larger than the subject being photographed. The range from life size on film (1:1) up to ten times enlargement on film (10:1) is be the strict definition of macro photography. The range from 1:10 (1/10 life size on film) to 1:1 on film should properly be called “close-up” photography.
Most lenses don’t get very close at all so that close-up you tried of that nice flower or interesting bug often turns out disappointing.
Zoom lenses usually have a “macro” setting where they may get close enough to give maybe 1:4 ratio (image on film is 1/4 the size of the subject). Any normal 4″x6″ print made from that negative will yield a picture of the subject about life size due to the approximately 4x enlargement needed to make the print. But if it was a small flower/bug it still will be a small flower/bug on the print.
Life gets more interesting when you get closer to the subject and get closer to the 1:1 image size. Enlargements made now will start to be spectacular as the image on the print can be much larger than life size.
Understand that in all macro photography as the lens gets closer to the subject and the image gets larger on the film, the light reaching the film is lessened. Also the depth of field gets very shallow and to combat this, very small apertures are called for which lessens the light to the film even more. Both these things in combination mean that normal hand held exposures are usually out of the question. A tripod is needed for steadiness plus flash is needed in nearly every circumstance to give decent illumination.
Often the image size on the film is the important feature so the focus is done manually to get the size of the image correct then final focus on the subject is done by moving the whole camera to and fro. To make life easy a mechanical attachment is added to the tripod head to allow smooth movement of the camera making the final focus easier.
What you need to get things happening is a camera that can be used in aperture priority mode and manual mode and preferably having TTL control of the flash. A good sturdy tripod is essential as camera shake is magnified greatly when working in macro. To avoid shaking the tripod you need a remote release, this may be a mechanical or electronic release, or you can employ the self timer and use the 10 second delay until it fires to let the arrangement stop shaking after touching it. A TTL controlled flash, two are better, can be of another manufacturer as long as all the TTL extension cables fit and work correctly. And the focussing rail mentioned in the above paragraph makes focussing easier, this can be store bought or made by an enthusiastic handyman. The rest of the macro equipment needs to be chosen after reading the descriptive text.’
I found this article on this website. It gives a simple description of how to achieve decent macro photographs with a film SLR camera. I like the sound of printing macro images larger than life size, this will create amazing images I think, especially with Lego figures. I can imagine a series of close-up images of Lego figures, then the same Lego figures photographed in their film scene enviroment from many different angles. I am starting to get excited about the many different ways I could approach my idea with photographs!