Explore Still Life, Nature And Insects Close Up With Digital
Close-up or digital macro photography,
which is it's technical term, opens up new perspectives on our natural
The practical and creative uses for macro shots are almost endless and
most digital cameras are very good at it.
Even basic compact digital camera models usually have a macro
mode built in, enabling you to use this impressive
technique without the need for expensive equipment.
There is an endless range of subjects out there waiting to be captured
with your creative flair – from
butterflies to spiders, acorns to leaves, etc.
Even every-day objects like wrist-watches and cuff-links make
interesting pictures under the right lighting. If you enjoy taking
still life or nature shots or even close-ups of insects, macro
photography is for you.
Shooting this sort of tabletop
photography, digital cameras have a huge advantage over traditional
film cameras. You can review your results and make adjustments to your
subject and camera as you shoot.
If a photo doesn't turn out as you'd hoped, just delete it and try
Some Interesting Ideas For Close-up Photography
Photographs of your jewellery or a valuable stamp collection can be
taken with digital macro photography and
used for insurance purposes as well as being attractive images in their
Garden flowers make stunning subjects and
are easy to find. Insects such as bees and butterflies are also
interesting close-up, especially if you can photograph them in the
middle of a flower.
Other items that have good texture and patterns can make good close-up
photos using digital macro photography. Items such as fruit and
vegetables have great textures and when
they are cut open and properly exposed, make really creative shots.
The Best Ways To Get Close To Your Subject
Even the best digital cameras and lenses force you at least a metre
away from your subject. Normal lenses cannot easily be designed to
handle larger focusing ranges. To get closer to your subject, try these
three macro photography strategies.
If you use a DSLR, get yourself a macro
lens. Most camera lenses are optimised to focus at
infinity, but many manufacturers offer macro lenses to focus on close
objects nearby. These produce near life-size images.
Another strategy is to the macro settings built into most digital
cameras. The macro setting alters the formula and function of the lens.
The zoom control then becomes the focus and you adjust the zoom or
image size by moving the camera closer or further from your subject.
Some digital macro cameras let you get as close as 2cm.
The third strategy is to use a close-up or macro lens
attachment. A relatively inexpensive method that
involves, attaching a close-up lens kit to the front of your normal
lens. This alters the formula of the lens and it focuses closer. Some
photographers believe that this compromises the quality of the shot.
You could also try the method of focus stacking
using software, which is explained in the video below.
Controlling Depth Of Field And Focus
The trickiest part of digital macro photography is making sure your
subject comes out sharp. Focusing is one of the biggest challenges you
will encounter in close-up photography.
To get sharp photos, your focusing has to be accurate, because the
closer you are to your subjects, the lower
your depth of field. You should always
use the smallest lens aperture possible – usually f/16
or f/22 – to maximise the depth of field
and focus on the most important part of your subject.
When you focus on subjects close up, you’ll notice that the depth of
field includes the plane you focus on plus the area in front of the
subject and also the area behind that focus plane.
In addition to a limited depth of field (DOF), most methods of taking
macro photographs render the focusing ring on your lens useless. You
normally have to move the whole camera closer to – or farther away from
– the subject.
Another problem that you will incur is slow shutter
speeds. Even in good lighting, you may find that a
shutter speed of half or even one second is required when using an
aperture of f/16.
A sturdy tripod with a focusing rail is
essential if you want to avoid camera shake. A cable release on the
shutter is also useful to minimise vibration.
Lighting And Flash For Close-Ups
When working with digital macro photography, lighting is a serious
challenge. Getting in close to your subject is easy, but you tend to
lose a lot of light in the process. One solution is to use artificial
Another solution is to purchase a ring flash.
This unit, designed specially for close-up macro photography, fits to
the front of your lens and has a circular tube to provide even and
The approach most macro photographers prefer, however, is to use one or
two small manual flashguns mounted on a suitable flash bracket and then
work out the aperture required to give the correct exposure.
You can also use reflectors and diffusers to reduce the shadows and get
the lighting just right.
Top Tip For Taking Hand-Held Shots
When holding a digital camera by hand, be careful of camera
shake. As a general rule, you can hold a lens at shutter
speeds that are reciprocal of the focal length of your lens.
For example, if you have a 50mm lens, you can have a shutter speed as
slow as 1/50 second. With a 180mm lens, a shutter speed slower than
1/180 second should not be used.
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