When do you “wow” a picture? I am pretty sure; it happens whenever you see something that you never expected or not used seeing them on a daily basis right? Yes, that means if you want others to “Wow” you, you need to click something people don’t see every day.
So, what is that people don’t see every day?
“The micro world!” We are so used to our daily lives, and we often forget that there is an entirely different universe around us in a micro world. In this micro-world, the colours are so vivid; shapes are intricate, life is very different, nothing is trivial. Any observational opportunity is going to create a wow moment for sure!
But most of the beginner photographers assume that micro world photography is a most challenging and expensive type of photography. Fortunately, it is not so. You don’t need anything special to do good close-up shots. Read below and let’s explore what it takes to get to the micro level.
Focusing: The sharply focused subject is the hallmark of close up shots. You need to do a careful focusing on the intended subject or subject area. Even the mobile phones can take excellent close-up shots(above example). I strongly recommend you do manual focus and not to rely on auto-focus whenever possible. Many times while doing close-up shots in autofocus mode, I have seen the camera focusing on the unintended area. In the first example above camera could have focused on the flower than the stamens. Remember, only you know the story you are trying to tell, not the camera!
Focus distance: The quality of your images will be better if you have a lens which can focus from the closest distance. Also, remember by shooting from the nearest distance, you are also separating the background from the subject better. Different lenses have different close focus distance. So familiarize with your lens’s near focus distance and take advantage of it. Zoom lenses have longer minimum focus distance such as 1 meter and more, so avoid using such lenses for close up shots(with some exceptions as described below). Mobile phone cameras have very close focus distances such s 5 cms which is excellent for closeup shots.
Zoom capabilities: Even-though I mentioned already about shooting from the close distances for close-up shots, in some situations such as while shooting an insect or a fly, you may not be able to do close distance focus. Any attempt to do so might scare away your subject and ruin the whole opportunity. So now you need the help of zoom capable lens. But by using the zoom lens you are now vulnerable to camera shake, so pay attention that you are using higher shutter speeds. Also, bear in mind that even though these little creatures look like they are stationary, but they are making microscopic high-frequency vibrations. So there is a great risk of creating not so sharp pictures. Also never do digital zoom if your camera supports it.
Light: Closeup shots need good soft light illumination on the whole subject. But never shoot close up shots in bright sunlight as it will destroy all the finer delicate details on the subject. In close up shot success depends on the details you are able to showcase. A cloudy day is a better day, but there should be enough light. Avoid using the camera flash as it’s too harsh.
Time: Close up shots are the most time-consuming photography activity in my opinion. So spare lot of time to take these shots.
Multiple Shots: Take many shots of the same subject as much as possible. It’s difficult to check the results on the tiny screen of the camera and judge. Also, make sure to click the shots from different angles and settings then chose the better ones from your computer later.
Macro Lens: Macro lenses are special lenses meant for close up shots. Macro lenses also have very short focus capability. In the shortest focus distance, they capture 1:1 image reproduction on the camera sensor. Only when the image is reproduced at 1:1 ratio, it’s a Macro, otherwise its a closeup. If you are very serious about macro photography invest on a good macro lens. (I still don’t own a macro lens)
Ext Tubes: If you don’t have a budget for a dedicated macro lens, you could try the extension tubes. When attached to your camera, you will be able to do closer focus on your existing regular non-macro lens than it was designed for.
Reversing the lens: If you think you don’t even want to spend on extension tubes and still want to do the macro photography, then there is another way! The technique is called “Reversing the lens.” Here you will take out your lens from the camera body and attach(hold) it inside out on your camera! Google about “reversing lens” and find out about them. All the pictures I posted above set are taken using this technique. As you can see, the depth of field becomes too shallow, and focusing becomes challenging.
Some more of the closeup shots I have taken with my regular lens below.
Close-ups open up whole new world for us. Once you get into closeup photography, you will start seeing possible subjects everywhere.
Liked this session? Make sure to check out my earlier sessions here.
Now let’s get closer! Have a question? post it below.
- Post atleast one or two pictures, keeping today’s topic of “Close up / Macro” in mind. Apply all the things we learnt in the previous sessions. (New or old pictures accepted!)
- Let me know type of camera(mobile, DSLR, point and shoot)
- Try to put EXIF data (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) so that I can comment better unless you shot the picture on the mobile phone.
- Add a tag ‘XDrivePhoto’
- Add a pingback to this post. (Basically, copy the URL of this post, and paste to your post. (Anywhere)
- Title the post as “XDrive Photo Lesson – 8 – Close up/Macro”
Your ping-backs may not appear immediately as I have to enable them later. I will check your post and I will comment on your post itself. I will post selected contribution links to this post later so that others can also see and learn from them. (Please note there is no time limit for your contributions, you can post them anytime, I will respond to them as you contribute. You can also make more than one contributions to the same topic)
Although these lessons are geared towards newbies, expert photographers also welcomed heartily. I need to learn too! There are no teachers here everyone is learning.
Cheers and Happy clicking!