Size Matters: How to use Gen AI for Macro Photography

James Dow

Rethinking Advertising: Macro Photography

Macro photography plays a crucial role in bringing products and brands to life - whether it’s capturing the curve of an eyelash, the sparkle of a wedding ring, or a dewy blade of grass. The way those delicate intricacies are showcased can be make or break for a brand.

The Creative Challenge

Capturing the intricate details and subtle textures of macro subjects has historically been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. We wanted to see how GenAI held up against in-person shoots. We wanted to test Pencil’s capabilities when it came to getting macro shots of a premium product, where detail is everything. 

The Outcome

Using GenAI for macro photography turned out to be a lot simpler than we imagined. In fact, it only took two steps. We started with the detailed lines and reflections of a watch face. For watch brands, macro photography is the perfect way to convey the precision customers are looking for from their new timepiece. With watches, every tiny piece is significant, so you want to maintain the aesthetic quality of the watch while also ensuring technical accuracy. In photography, a product’s technical excellence is best conveyed with macro photography.

For a premium product, the gold glint of a watch’s hands, the sharpness of a dial or the glint of a camera lens will make all the difference. When you’re splashing out on a high ticket item, you want to see its detail. It’s the same for engagement rings and wedding bands. Brands need to show the complexities within the jewel - not to mention that ever-important sparkle.

Macro photography is also an essential tool for drawing attention to specific product features - whether it’s a waterproof jacket or a high spec camera lens. Being able to harness macro photography at the drop of a hat opens up a whole world of product photography.

The Methodology

Made by @JamesD0w (Creative Director, Brandtech Consulting). Here’s how he did it:

1. Prompt

  • A macro photo of a luxury watch, detailed complications, product photography, 8k, high definition

2. Images

So this is pretty straight forward. Gen AI does an excellent job of macro photography and you don’t have to cram the prompt full of adjectives to make fantastically detailed images. I’m making the initial image in Pencil using Stable Diffusion XL. Prompts are in the ALT but I’ll break them down below.

  • ‘Macro’ will focus much more closely on a subject (four or five centimetres) rather than about 45 centimetres of a normal (non macro) lens.
  • ‘Detailed complications’ should give us some lovely details on the watch face
  • ‘product photography’ allows the model to reference the particular style of lighting and angles found in the type of product imagery we are going for

Take your time to choose the right image to upscale. A product photographer will take 100s of images from many angles and with different lighting. It’s best not to expect to see ‘the one’ until you have created between 10-20 shots at least.

3. Upscaling

Next, we pop them into Magnific.AI to upscale and enhance the level of detail. 

Settings: Keeping creativity fairly low for a first pass helps keep it close to the original. HD never needs to be too high. A minus number for resemblance tells the model we don't mind it straying from the original shot if it means greater definition.

  • Creativity 1
  • HD 3
  • Resemblance -3

And that’s it. Ultra-high definition, macro product photography in two steps. I created a range of images covering food, fashion, technology and luxury to show how good the results can be no matter the subject.

The Conclusion

From streamlining the creative process to unlocking new creative possibilities, Gen AI is opening up a ton of options when it comes to photography. Those who are already clued up to the benefits of macro shots can now generate creatives in two easy steps. And brands who have previously been limited to bog standard product shots can now explore the effectiveness of macro photography, including showcasing technical excellence or highlighting key product features.