Take a different approach to creating outstanding close-ups
By Clint Farlinger
Composing close-up photographs for the first time is like discovering a new world. By magnifying the fine details of nature's most amazing creations, our eyes awaken to the splendor of the world around us. Yet it takes more than a macro lens or a close-up filter to create an exceptional close-up photograph. The "new world" of macrophotography requires a different way of seeing, especially when done through the camera. Here are some techniques I've discovered for creating some unusual and exciting close-up photographs.
Starting Simply: A Close-Up Filter Macrophotography is challenging, especially when using medium or large format, and I was looking for a method to get closer to the subject. Prior to this experiment, I had avoided single-element close-up filters because their quality doesn't match that of extension tubes, multi-element filters or macro lenses. But I knew I'd be spending a lot of time with flowers on a specific trip and I wanted to try something new. I added a +3 close-up filter to my bag.
Looking through the viewfinder of my Mamiya RZ, there appeared to be an alien world on the other side of the lens. With the +3 close-up filter attached to a 250mm lens, nothing looked sharp and the edges looked distorted. I tried focusing, but with no success. I tried a different angle and then a different subject. Finally, an appealing composition started to come together.
As I've always done with macro subjects, I used the lens' depth-of-field preview to fine-tune the focus and composition, but this time the pleasing composition disappeared. I figured stopping down wasn't the way to go and I photographed this particular Texas bluebonnet with the lens wide open. I was concerned how this would look on the light table since there would be virtually no depth of field and close-up filters need to be stopped down to be even somewhat sharp.