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How to Take Great Close-up Photos

May 24, 2013 by Michael Gabriel

Even if you are using a simple point-and-shoot digital camera, it is possible to take great close-up photos. Setting the camera to macro is not the only thing you need to do, though. There are some rules that you need to follow, and some can be a little bit tricky. However, it doesn’t require you to be a photo geek.

Generally speaking, there are two things that you should do when taking a close-up photo. First, you need to properly set up your shots; second, you should familiarize all the settings of your camera so you’ll know what to use for the photo you want to create. Apart from these two, you will also have to consider several basic photography rules and learn how to integrate them into your practice.

Close Up Photo
photo by Emilian Robert Vicol

Here are some of the most important points that you need to consider and follow in order to create close-up photos that connect with and appeal to even the most discriminating eye.

Be Aware of What’s Around You

If you’re observant and aware of everything that’s going on around you, you will find a lot of interesting ideas or inspirations for close-up shots. You’ll find subjects as diverse as you want them to be. This will allow you to create different stories with your photographs.

Practice the General Photography Rule

And what exactly is that? Well, one of the general rules of photography is for photographers to study their subjects.

If you have time, do a little research on your subject so that you’ll have ideas on how you should project the scene when you start taking photos. This is especially important if you choose to take close-ups of butterflies, birds and other subjects of similar kind.

Get Down to Basics

One of the basic needs of a good photograph is excellent lighting.

So before you decide to shoot that close-up, take note of or study the lighting of the area where your subject is (specifically when you’re taking shots of flowers and insects). If you’re taking photos in a bright, open area (like a field of flowers); take note of how the colors react with the (natural) light. If you plan to take close-up photos indoors, experiment with the lighting first before taking the shots. Be sure your subjects aren’t exposed to too much light, as this will cause blurred images. Avoid using flash too.

The Background

If you want your subject to be the center of focus and stand out, you should choose a background that contrasts the whole scene. Any contrasting background will do, like a bright background and a light or hazy foreground. You can also use contrasting colors.

Macro Setting and Macro Lens

If you’re using a simple point-and-shoot digital camera, look for the “flower” symbol (for most brands) on Settings. This is the macro shot tool. Use this for taking your close-ups. However, be sure to set your camera mode to auto as this will help determine which ISO is best to use for the shot you want to take. Some point-and-shoot digital cams have a super macro option, but you might not like it because using this feature will automatically disable your zoom and flash.

To make your shot more effective, set the timer of your camera. If you do not set it on timer mode, you’ll have to firmly press the shutter button – and this can affect the focus of the camera. It is always better to remove your hand from the camera as soon as it starts taking shots.

For DSLRs, there are several options to choose from when taking close-ups. The most common practice of photographers, though, is using a good macro lens. Choose a macro lens that comes with a low aperture settings as this will help you capture the perfect DOF (or Depth of Field) for your shot.

Additionally, you can also make use of filters. Close-up filters can be added to your lens and create an effect similar to that of a magnifying glass. If this doesn’t work for you, there’s always the reverse lens, which is actually achieved by using reversing filters and attaching them to your regular lens. You’ll need to work in the manual mode, though, if you plan to use this option.

Mount Your Camera on a Tripod

The number one problem of close-up shots is blurriness or a shaky effect. This is caused by unsteady hands while holding the camera. To make sure that you won’t take wobbling shots, use a tripod. Improve your shot’s focus with a fixed camera position.

If you do not have a tripod and are using only a point-and-shoot, look for a sturdy table with a flat surface. Place your camera on top of the table. Be sure that the tables’ height complements your subject’s position or placement.

Take Lots of Shots

For the purpose of variety – and so that you can choose the best ones – take as many close-up shots of one subject as you can. It’s pretty much like what cameramen do when shooting a movie scene; they take numerous shots using a variety of angles. If you do this, you’ll have several perspectives of your subject that you can choose from, especially if you are planning to have the photos framed or entered into your collection.

Practice Makes Perfect

The first close-up photo that you take should be done in an outdoor setting. Take close-up shots of flowers, leaves, tree branches or even the grass. Aside from their colorful nature, these subjects are also quite easy to work with since natural lighting can give off a natural effect. Take your shots early in the morning or late in the afternoon (before the sun sets) in order to get the best effects.

Eventually, as you keep practicing, you will be able to move on to other subjects. Just keep practicing and taking photos, paying extra attention to the progress of your shots as time goes on. Work on your photos and try to find out what you need to improve and what you have already mastered.

Conclusion

These are just basic tips on what you should do when taking close-up photos. As technology is always improving, though, it’s alright to assume that new close-up techniques will come out soon. Especially since new photography products and theories come out every so often.

Michael Gabriel

About the author: Michael Gabriel

Michael Gabriel L. Sumastre is an experienced freelance writer for hire. He has been professionally writing articles, blogs posts and tech content since 2005. Michael loves to take pictures of the countryside when he is touring with his motorcycle. He maintains his professional writing portfolio and personal blog at www.TheFinestWriter.com or on Google+.

  • Anna Louise Stewart-Seymour

    Great article! Thank you for these great tips on macro photography! I enjoy bringing to light all the beautiful things that might otherwise go unnoticed.

    • http://twitter.com/mikelgabriel TheFinestWriter.com

      You’re welcome and thank you too Anna! I’m glad you like the article.