Get Out and Shoot!
The best way to get good close-up and macro shots is to get out and practice. No matter what your gear, take it out into an interesting area, even just a garden nearby, and start exploring up close. The more you do this, the more things you will find to photograph.
While doing this, try your lens at different f-stops as well. Often photographers think they have to shoot at small f-stops for “more depth of field.” Not always! Sometimes you actually want less depth of field, especially when backgrounds are confusing, or just to create a background with beautiful out-of-focus colors. To see how a different depth of field can affect the look of an image, compare Figures 12 and 13.
Figure 12 Giant coreopsis, very shallow depth of field.
Figure 13 Giant coreopsis, closest focusing distance, compact camera.
Take lots of pictures and check out your results on your LCD. If the image isn't what you want, take another picture, or try something else, while you are still there with the subject.
I guarantee that this approach of shooting and reshooting as you learn to explore this different world of the close-up will pay off. You will get unique and interesting views that others miss!
Rob Sheppard is the author/photographer of Macro Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots and Landscape Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots. His website is JoyofNatureandPhotography.com.