Close up photography is all about capturing the beauty of little things that are often overlooked. This includes everything from droplets of dew on your lawn or the mind-boggling eyes of a housefly. No matter the brief, the world is crying out loud to be discovered through the photographer’s macro lens. Here’s some tips to get you started and discovered the hidden beauties in life’s simple pleasures.
1. Find a setting
This is the fundamental step in capturing close up photography. The garden is one of the most accessible locations to aim for. The open space and abundance of life makes this a photographer’s favorite. Think of the vivid colors of the flowers, the variety of fascinating insects around, and of course, natural light.
2. Be an early riser
Early morning light is particularly warm on flowers. It brilliantly complements the colors of the flower petals. However, take note of the wind. Too much of this will negatively affect the focus and composition of the image. To make the most of the setting, take the liberty to arrive early and scout for the perfect spot. Bear in mind that daytime shoots are vulnerable to dark shadows. Counter this by using a small reflector to bounce the light off the object to strike a sublime balance between exposure and natural light.
3. Use an extension tube
These tubes fit between the rear mouth of the lens and the camera’s body. This improves the focus and produces high-quality images. The added focus leads to a larger image of your subject. If capturing the intricate movements of your insects are the main goal, then this is an alternative worth considering.
4. Use the bokeh effect
This aesthetic quality of an out of focus blur image is often desired by photographers. Better known as the bokeh effect, this is commonly used in capturing close up and macro photographs of flowers and insects. A fast lens is key to achieving this effect. An aperture of f/2, f/1.8 or f/1.4 is ideal. This then allows the subject to stand out from the crowd.
5. Ready, steady, shoot
There is no doubt that the tripod provides the best support for images. However, when it comes to a close up photography, that may not be the case. The lack of accessibility of the bulky tripod works against it as your subjects, be it insects or flowers, are constantly on the move due to the wind or its natural movements. The solution? Use your hands as a clamp and hold the flowers still. As for insects, consider increasing shutter speed to capture them, even when in motion.
6. Get down low
A low viewpoint provides the best angle for natural images. So be prepared to get down and dirty. You will be required to lay on the ground for close up photography. Additionally, a small beanbag is worth considering. It provides support for the camera rather than keeping it on the ground during shots. By pushing the camera into the cushion, it reduces any unwanted movement which might lead to an out of focus image.
7. Take advantage of refraction
This involves a little bit of creativity, especially during morning dew or rainy days. Begin by focusing on a droplet. Next, make use of your colorful surroundings and angle the camera so it shows on the back of the droplet. Finally, blur the subjects in the background and zero in on the intriguing refracted image.
8. Look for unique angles in your close up photography
Close up photography is all about the subject. Therefore, it is essential to capture the hero of the image in its very best form. If you are looking at an insect, pay close attention to its movements. Next, find the best angle to capture the beauty of these creatures. Get creative. Don’t just zero in on the the butterfly or bee for the sake of a larger photograph. A camera tilt or an upside down shot might bring out the best outcome. Just take precaution to avoid moving too quickly and casting unwanted shadows when getting into position.
In addition, if you have an appetite for the high life, check out our guide on 10 places to fly for amazing aerial photography. Finally, if you are starved for ideas, read up on 15 habits to sustain a creative life.