Close-up photos can provide some wonderful results. They can often showcase things that most people miss day to day and can add a real sense of variety to your shots. So in this quick guide, we’ll discuss what they are, why and how you should photograph them and where to find them.
What do I mean by close-ups?
Firstly to be clear, for close-ups in this context I’m not talking about macro photography. So you don’t need any specialist equipment to take these types of close-up shots. Any lens will be fine – even a prime lens (a lens with a fixed focal length).
Close-ups can mean anything from an interesting texture on a wall to just focusing on a small area of a statue. They could even be just a small detail of a person whether that is their features, their clothes or what they are doing. The main requisite of a close-up shot is for it to be close enough to fill the frame and be the main point of focus.
Why are close-ups worth photographing?
These types of shots are really useful if you are an editorial photographer. Often magazines designers and picture editors will lay out a magazine spread only to find that they have small areas that they need to fill. These small areas can be troublesome to fill with say a landscape shot because it’s too small for that type of photo. But close-ups photos will look terrific in small size. Sometimes a designer will use multiple close-ups shots in a grid that not only looks great but makes the spread interesting to the viewer.
But even if you are just photographing for yourself it is still worth capturing these close-up shots to give your portfolio variety. You can also use things like interesting graphics and textures as overlays on photos to give them a really unique and interesting look.
What sort of things should you be taking close-ups of?
The short answer is anything and everything. For example, go to a market and everything from fruit and vegetables to souvenirs can be photographed this way. As mentioned earlier you can photograph objects like statues, carvings and even people in this way. The key is to focus on one small element of the statue or the person and get close enough so that it becomes your main point of interest and fills the entire frame.
Another great thing to capture close-ups of is interesting elements with architecture and the urban environment. For example textures on a wall or even street art are all great for this type of photography. So keep your eyes open around you for the small details that most people would miss.
How to take close up photos?
The good news is that close up photos are really easy to capture. For one, because you are going to be close to your subject you don’t need to worry about people walking across your shot. The first thing you need to determine is your shutter speed. If you are photographing anything static this makes things easier and you can set your shutter speed to a minimum of 1/80th sec (or as I would recommend 1/100th sec to be sure). If you are photographing something that might move slightly like a plant or a person’s clothes (that might move with a breeze), you may need to select a faster shutter speed.
Once you have got your shutter speed sorted, the next important setting is the aperture. This can be a little tricky depending on the type of thing you are photographing. For example, if you are photographing something flat like a wall then you don’t need a long depth of field. So a wide aperture will be fine to capture a sharp photo of the entire scene. But if you are photographing something like a market stall from an angle you need to think more carefully about your aperture. You can of course still choose a wide aperture but you need to ensure that you have focused on the correct element in your scene.
Alternatively, you can select a narrower aperture which will give you a longer depth of field but that will likely mean having to raise your ISO. What you decide with these two settings will determine your ISO.
Don’t forget to get close, but not too close…
One thing you should definitely avoid doing with this type of photography is standing far away, taking a photo and then cropping in post-production to mimic a close-up shot. The more you crop a photo the lower you are making the overall resolution of the shot. So get into the habit of getting close rather than relying on cropping when editing.
However, you also need to ensure that you are not too close. Every lens has a minimum distance that you have to be away from the subject for the lens to focus. This is the minimum focal length of a lens. It will vary for different lenses so make sure you check the minimum focal length of your lens and don’t get closer than that. If you have a zoom lens that shouldn’t be a huge issue as you can stand a little further back and zoom in. It’s also important to note that the minimum focal length isn’t from the front of your lens but rather from the camera body.
Close up shots should be something that you get into the habit of taking whenever the opportunity arises. They are quick, easy and can provide wonderful results that clients will often find really useful. So next time you are out and about, keep your eyes open for those interesting close-up scenarios.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.