One of the things that makes macro shots so beautiful are their shallow depth of field (DOF). There’s just something about that island of sharpness within a a sea of soft focus. But when that focus is on the wrong part of the subject, a great shot turns mediocre at best. And unfortunately, with such a shallow DOF that is all too often the case.
Strangely enough, the method I came up with to combat this “DOF creep” (unintentional movement of focal point) actually comes from something I learned as a pre-teen. For this I had to think way back to my days in 4H where I learned how to shoot a gun. I was only shooting targets mind you but the lessons were actually helpful. The principles for shooting pictures are the same, any small movement in the gun meant that much larger of a movement on the target. What I remembered was to slow down my breathing and wait for those moments between the breath. That was when you would have the least movement.
So I decided to take this idea of breath control and apply it to my photography. As I am usually trying to take multiple shots when I get into position I will take a deep breath and then hold it for the duration of my shooting. I also try to lock my other joints (elbows, knees, hips…) as best as I can but my positioning doesn’t always allow me to lock up all that much. This breathing method eliminates slight movements from the expansion/contraction of my chest and arms as air enters and leaves my lungs.
This is by no means a cure-all but it does make a significant difference in the final shots. Go ahead give it a try. Or if you do something different, I’d love to hear about it.