March Theme: Close-up/Macro

Expect big things when you engage the small world of close-up photography. No special
equipment is required although if you want to fill the frame with your cat’s nose or a wayward
insect, you will likely need a macro lens, close-up extension tubes or some other means for
getting really, really close. But close-up photography is not limited to extreme close-up “macro”
photography; most camera equipment will open up a new world of possibilities as you work near
the minimum close-focusing distance of your lens.
Interesting subjects for close-up photography can be found anywhere, outside or indoors and
the more you look, the more you will find. You may bring new life to found objects, collectibles,
jewellery or food right in your own home. Or you may be drawn to the outdoors in search of
photogenic fungi, flowers, plants, shells, stones or objects washed up the beach. Close-ups of
pets and people can be very compelling and still life shots found or created inside or out can be
wonderful subject matter.
One critical aspect of close-up photography is ensuring that adequate depth of field is achieved
so that the parts of the image that you wish to be in focus stay sharp. There are three critical
factors in determining how deep or shallow your zone of acceptable sharpness will be in close-
up photography:
1. Aperture. The smaller your aperture setting, the greater your depth of field will be. i.e.
More of your image will be acceptably sharp at f8 than at f2, other things being equal.
2. Focal length. The shorter your focal length, the greater your depth of field will be. I.e.
More of your image will be acceptably sharp using a 28mm lens than a 50mm lens, other
things being equal.
3. Distance to subject. The further your camera is from your subject, the greater your
depth of field will be but since we are discussing the close-up photography theme, you
want to be close to your subject! That means you will have to carefully manage all three
factors described here to produce the result you want.
Depth of field is critically important in close-up photography and is a creative choice; only you
can decide how to use it to implement your photographic vision.
It may be obvious from the discussion of depth of field above that focus is critical in close-up
photography and manually focusing your lens can be an ideal way to achieve the sharpness you
want where you want it in your image. Most cameras offer some sort of manual focusing aid; set
this up in a way that works for you and make it your friend. Another thing to be aware of,
especially in extreme close-up or macro photography, is the alignment of the subject with your
camera’s film plane or sensor. A subject which is parallel t the film or sensor plane will have
more of its area in focus than a subject which is placed at an angle to the film or sensor plane,
Close-up photography can be an extremely rewarding pursuit and carries with it the benefit of
being able to be set up indoors where the photographer has control over both the environment
and the lighting. Close-up photography is also an excellent genre for fine tuning one’s
appreciation for the subtleties of depth of field, focus and lighting.
Here’s an short online guide that covers many of the important aspects of close-up and macro
photography and provides some excellent subject ideas.


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