*Close up Photography*

We have all seen close up photographs of flowers, insects or household items and sometimes wondered how did the artist get that shot. So let’s examine close up photography. We have all noted that the closer we get to a subject, the larger it appears in the viewfinder. The problem we soon encounter is that the lens can’t focus as close as we want to be to the subject. We could use a micro lens that will focus close enough to give us a 1:1 reproduction on the film or digital device. Or we could add extension tubes or a bellows unit to increase the magnification beyond 1:1.

Micro or Macro lens can be fixed focal length or zoom lenses. Some focus continually from infinity down to 1:1, others requires setting the camera for micro or macro work. They are the easiest to use and can often be hand held for quick shooting.

Extension tubes are hollow tubes that are mounted between your lens and the camera body. They come in various lengths from 6mm to 30mm and can be stacked for greater magnification. They are the least expensive means to achieve close up work. Nature photographers will often mount a extension tube on their 300-600mm lens to allow focusing closer than the typical 20’ offered by longer lens, this makes a great combo for photographing small birds.

Bellows units have two stages mounted to a common rail and connected by a light tight bellows material. The rear stage holds the camera while the front stage mounts the lens. The variable extension capable makes it possible to focus to the front element of the lens.’

Remember from our depth of field discussion that DOF decrease as you focus closer so you may want to stop the lens down to increase the sharpness. This will cause a decrease in shutter speed requiring that your camera be well supported, usually with a tripod.

Backgrounds can be distracting so I will usually carry a background with me. A small black towel can be draped as a background or used to cover your hand while holding a flower stem steady. I also carry a multi sided collapsible reflector with me that often becomes a background.

Lighting can be a little tricky particularly when the camera or lens is close enough to block your prime light source. Your portable reflector can be used to bounce light into the subject. Carry a remote cord for your flash and move it away from the camera to fully light the subject and create more dramatic lighting.

Focusing is often more easily accomplished by moving the camera rather than attempting to focus the lens.
Holding the subject is sometimes necessary so I use a combination of foam, sponges, toothpicks, small wires and hot melt glue to make a stage for some objects.

This is just a starting point, try out various techniques to find out what works best for you and create a new comfort zone for shooting great pix.
Happy shooting Larry Grayam

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