08.05 The Close-Up Photography Assignment Ideas

Close-up and macro photography truly bring you in contact with new worlds. We don’t easily or normally see the details of life around us, and this is especially true of non-nature photographers. I remember the first time I got a close-up photo. It was of a syrphid fly on a daisy. I was a kid and had made a close-up lens from a magnifier and attached it to my dad’s Argus C3. That camera was no SLR, so I had to make a focus-and-frame stick to aid in those areas. The fly was in focus (though not really sharp), and it was exciting to see it in my print.

I have access to some amazing close-up and macro gear, but I still love that fresh view on the world. Shooting close-ups with a digital camera also means I immediately get to see and be amazed by small-scale life with the LCD review.

Close-up photography can be a lot of fun. There are so many subjects that can test your skill and technique in photography.

Photographing everything, from insects to flowers to rocks, really expands a nature photographer’s vision and photography.

Here are some tips to make this photography better for you >>

1Close-up seeing. Go to any spot of nature, such as a garden, an empty lot or a park, and arbitrarily pick a small area (20x20 feet is good). Then spend an hour there finding close-ups. Most people get bored after about ten minutes but, when forced to look, find that one hour just gets them started.

2Get some extension tubes. Extension tubes are simply empty tubes (no optics) that fit between your lens and camera body. They can be used with any lens to make it focus closer and at high quality. This opens up whole new possibilities of close-ups with different focal lengths. (see image on page 2)

3 Use a round-the-lens reflector. You can buy small, collapsible white reflectors with a hole in the center. Put this over your lens and use it for shooting backlit close-ups. The white reflector will kick light into the shadows. You can cut a hole exactly the size of your lens in a piece of white cardboard to try this idea out.

 

Close-Up Photography Or Macro?
Close-up photography refers to taking pictures of objects at close distances, generally less than two feet. Macro photography is about taking pictures of objects at extremely close distances; the traditional definition says that this occurs when the object itself is the same size in real life as on film, so magnification is 1:1. Macro photography is technically a subset of close-up photography, and it’s often used to describe any extreme close-up work.

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4Try a beanbag. Beanbags are a great way to support a camera when you need to get it low, such as when photographing moss on the ground. You can get small ones that easily fit in your camera bag. When you use the beanbag, push the camera into the cushion’s softness so that it’s supported and the movement is dampened.

5Use your hand as a clamp.
Since close-ups mean you’re getting so close to your subject that the area seen by the camera is small, it’s easy to use a hand to grab a wind-blown flower to steady it or pull it into focus, and you won’t see your hand in the photo. For a more refined way of doing this, check out the Wimberley Plamp or the McClamp Clamp devices that attach to your tripod and hold a flower still.

6Use a right-angle or waist-level finder. A right-angle finder for SLRs (film or digital) allows you to get your camera lower to the ground without having to smash your face into the soil. Another option is to use a high-quality, compact digital camera or D-SLR with a swivel, live-view LCD. That allows you to use the camera at odd angles while always seeing what the lens is seeing.

7Temper your built-in flash.
Few cameras are set up to give a good exposure for flash when used at very close focusing distances, plus the flash itself may be aimed poorly for such use. Put any kind of diffusing material over the flash to cut its light and make the light better for close-ups. You can use a specially made diffuser, a piece of white cloth, translucent plastic or even a small Styrofoam cup.

8Use continuous shooting for better focus. Because of wind, you may find it difficult to get the precise focus you need. Put your camera on continuous shooting and just hold the shutter down for a burst of shots as you work to find focus. You’ll almost always find that at least one of these shots will be perfectly focused. This is an ideal method with digital cameras because there’s no cost to the extra shooting. (see image on page 1)

9Balance your flash.
If your flash completely overpowers the existing light, the photo may be dramatic, but the shadows may be too dark and the background may be black. Choose a camera setting that balances your flash to the existing light so that some of the light from the sky, for example, fills in the shadows. Unfortunately, camera manufacturers haven’t chosen a consistent way of doing this, so you have to check your manual for more information. This is easy to do with digital cameras because you can set the camera on manual and keep decreasing the shutter speed until you see the needed detail in the dark areas when reviewed on the LCD. You have to be careful of movement, though, because this is often a problem with slow shutter speeds.

10Corral your insect subject. Use the sensitivity of insects to your advantage when an insect moves away from you to the other side of a stem. Reach out and move a hand over there, or have a companion move to that side, and the insect will usually move over to where you are. (see image on page 1)


Gear For Getting Close

Flash. When you add flash to your close-up gear, you extend your possibilities dramatically. You can use any built-in flash to start (and when you don’t have another flash with you) as described in the 10 tips.

For more power, but especially more control, you need both a separate, external flash unit plus a dedicated flash cord. The cord is a simple accessory—just a connection between camera and flash that allows communication from one to the other for proper exposure and more. With this cord, you can hold the flash at different positions relative to your subject—left, right, top or bottom—giving your close-up a different look each time.

Another advantage of a corded flash is that you can do something called "feathering" if the flash is too strong. This only works with digital because you need to see what you’re getting right away. Sometimes a big flash is too strong, so instead of pointing it directly at the subject, point it a little off from the subject so only the edge of the light hits it. You can also point the flash completely away from the subject to brighten a background and not affect the subject.

Telephotos for close-ups. A telephoto lens can magnify your subject at a distance, letting you get close-ups without having to get so close to the subject. This can be important if the subject is flighty and won’t let you get close (like a butterfly), if it bites or stings or if you keep shading your subject because your lens and camera are so close to it. If you find you experience these challenges a lot, you might consider a telephoto macro lens. Otherwise, a set of extension tubes is probably the best accessory to have with you, as they let any telephoto lens or zoom focus closer. An achromatic close-up lens sized for your telephoto or zoom can also help get quality close-ups (Canon, Hoya and Nikon have them in telephoto sizes).

Wide-angles for close-ups. Most photographers don’t think of wide-angles for close-up work. Wide-angle lenses change your perspective and depth of field. You can get some amazing shots of close-up subjects with a wide-angle focal length. You can use a short extension tube with a wide-angle lens or zoom to help it focus closer (even moderate-sized extension tubes rarely work). There are a few wide-angle lenses that focus close normally. An easy way to make wide-angle close-ups is to use a compact digital camera. These cameras often have close-focusing settings that only work with the wide-angle part of their zooms, plus many allow the use of achromatic close-up lenses that give high-quality results at any focal length.

 

 

 

 

Macro photography is also known as close-up photography. Compared to other types of photography, macro photography is quite difficult, because of the nifty equipment, lightning and other techniques involved. However, in the end it comes down to what kind of pictures you want to take and what level of precision you are striving for.

In this inspirational showcase, we’ve collected some beautiful macro pictures, as well as some useful macro photography tutorials – for people at all levels of experience.

Homies on Da Hood by Marshall Alsup

Deflated by MuffinMummy

Flower in a Drop by Szabolcs Vass

Eye of a Tokay Gecko

Sugar Girl

Soul Dance

An insect

Winter Blues By Ursula I Abresch.

Cold Miner by LordV

Michael Magin

Treble Chef Created by Glynn McDonald.

Butterfly by GOLDENORFE

Ant by Alliec2007

Recently at the fairytale forest by Gecko_gr

Farewell, Old Friends by MuffinMummy

Spider by IRAWAN YUWONO

Curved by Kristoffer Jonsson

Summer Refreshment by Frankieleon

Years of Lessons by Frankieleon

Ripples of Colour by Alex Bates

Stapelia leendertziae flower by Martin Heigan

Multi-Color Bungee by Frankieleon

Drips by Alex Bates

Hover by Alliec

Rose by 5348 Franco

Spider with Egg Case by Jimmy hoffman

Red Eye Tree Frog by Juza

Hover Fly by LordV

Pseudo Scorpion by LordV

Gear by LordV

Beauty of Rust by Frankieleon

Grass Drops by ViaMoi

Banded Demoiselle by Alliec2007

Fred Eye by Snack Happy

Dew Drop by Alliec2007

Mother Ship by Frankieleon

Getting Stuck In by Alliec2007

Is your pattern library up to date today? Alla Kholmatova has just finished a fully fledged book on Design Systems and how to get them right. With common traps, gotchas and the lessons she learned. Hardcover, eBook. Just sayin'.

Macro Photography Tutorials And DIY Tips And Tricks

Macro Photography for Beginners, Part 1, Part 2 This series of macro photography tutorials is a must for anyone starting a career in macro photography. These tutorials contain almost everything, including detailed explanations of macro photography, lighting, focusing and much more.


Picture by DodogoeSLR

How to Shoot Super Macro Photos A superb article on macro photography. It gives you a basic explanation of macro photography, as well as equipment, set-up, depth of field, flash and examples of what can be achieved and how.


Picture by fensterbme

Macro Photography Tutorial For Taking Bug Pictures In-depth tutorial on how to take bug pictures. It covers camera equipment, close-ups, reversing the lens, lighting, flash, tripods and much more. Very educational for anyone interested in taking macro pictures of small insects and bugs.


Picture by dincordero

Extreme Macro Photography on a Budget If you want to achieve extraordinary results, macro photography requires both good technique and good equipment. Lenses, lights, cameras and tripods cost thousands of dollars. Here is a useful DIY (do it yourself) tutorial on building a nice macro lens from a Pringles can.


Picture by leafy

How to Take Close-Up Pictures of Small Things This is an amazing resource for beginners. It covers basic things, such as what kind of camera and lens you need, and then gets into exposure, lighting, focus, combinations and much more.


Picture by Clicks 1000

Getting Started Guide to Macro or Close-Up Photography Another article to bookmark if you’re just learning macro photography. A lot of information, over four pages in fact, which will surely come in handy.

Depth of Field Calculator A really useful online tool that lets you calculate Depth of Field (DOF) before taking pictures. It can be used for almost any camera and lets you adjust for focal length (mm), f-stop, the subject’s distance and more.

How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio This tutorial is nothing short of fantastic. It shows you how to build a small lightbox in which you take pictures of small objects, flowers or anything you can think of. It won’t cost you much: all you’ll need is a cardboard box, cutting utensils and some paper.

Mini Macro Studio for Less than $0.02 Another useful tutorial on building a mini-macro studio out of everyday objects in no time. The set-up is very simple and requires only a sheet of paper, folded and taped. It is very easy to make and produces nice results.

Spider with Egg Case by Jimmy hoffman

Red Eye Tree Frog by Juza

Hover Fly by LordV

Pseudo Scorpion by LordV

Gear by LordV

Beauty of Rust by Frankieleon

Grass Drops by ViaMoi

Banded Demoiselle by Alliec2007

Fred Eye by Snack Happy

Dew Drop by Alliec2007

Mother Ship by Frankieleon

Getting Stuck In by Alliec2007

Macro Photography Tutorials And DIY Tips And Tricks

Macro Photography for Beginners, Part 1, Part 2 This series of macro photography tutorials is a must for anyone starting a career in macro photography. These tutorials contain almost everything, including detailed explanations of macro photography, lighting, focusing and much more.


Picture by DodogoeSLR

How to Shoot Super Macro Photos A superb article on macro photography. It gives you a basic explanation of macro photography, as well as equipment, set-up, depth of field, flash and examples of what can be achieved and how.


Picture by fensterbme

Macro Photography Tutorial For Taking Bug Pictures In-depth tutorial on how to take bug pictures. It covers camera equipment, close-ups, reversing the lens, lighting, flash, tripods and much more. Very educational for anyone interested in taking macro pictures of small insects and bugs.


Picture by dincordero

Extreme Macro Photography on a Budget If you want to achieve extraordinary results, macro photography requires both good technique and good equipment. Lenses, lights, cameras and tripods cost thousands of dollars. Here is a useful DIY (do it yourself) tutorial on building a nice macro lens from a Pringles can.


Picture by leafy

How to Take Close-Up Pictures of Small Things This is an amazing resource for beginners. It covers basic things, such as what kind of camera and lens you need, and then gets into exposure, lighting, focus, combinations and much more.


Picture by Clicks 1000

Getting Started Guide to Macro or Close-Up Photography Another article to bookmark if you’re just learning macro photography. A lot of information, over four pages in fact, which will surely come in handy.

Depth of Field Calculator A really useful online tool that lets you calculate Depth of Field (DOF) before taking pictures. It can be used for almost any camera and lets you adjust for focal length (mm), f-stop, the subject’s distance and more.

How To: DIY $10 Macro Photo Studio This tutorial is nothing short of fantastic. It shows you how to build a small lightbox in which you take pictures of small objects, flowers or anything you can think of. It won’t cost you much: all you’ll need is a cardboard box, cutting utensils and some paper.

Mini Macro Studio for Less than $0.02 Another useful tutorial on building a mini-macro studio out of everyday objects in no time. The set-up is very simple and requires only a sheet of paper, folded and taped. It is very easy to make and produces nice results.

Macro Photography Tips for Point-and-Shoot Digital Cameras Can’t afford all that heavy equipment? Then look at this tutorial. It provides all the basic tips and tricks on taking good macro photos with your point-and-shoot digital camera.

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