Close-up photography tips from our professional photographer
Julie found that when you’re shooting your subject at an angle, you won’t be able to get it all in focus. Heather advised her on the most important things to get sharp.
Practice makes perfect
Julie tried out her macro technique on a stationary subject, and soon found out that there’s a knack to getting the exposure right. Heather showed her how to use her DSLR’s spot metering mode to handle backlit subjects such as this one.
A leg to stand on?
On Heather’s advice, Julie ditched her tripod and opted to shoot either handheld (at higher ISOs) or with a monopod (for greater stability in low light). This helped her keep up with moving subjects.
Avoid shooting at angles
Julie got much closer for her second attempt at this butterfly, but discovered straight away one of the difficulties of close-up photography – the closer you get to your subject, the less depth of field there is. Plus, when you shoot at an angle like this you won’t get the whole of your subject sharp – but, then, you don’t always have to.
You need to pick the right things to focus on when shooting close-up photography, and with butterflies it’s the head and antennae. Unfortunately, in Julie’s photo the focus point is just behind the head, so it doesn’t quite work. But by trying the shot and seeing the outcome she understood what she needed to do next time.
Check the sharpness
Heather told Julie to review her shots on the LCD before moving on. She recommends imagining you’re working to a commission and have to get a great shot, come what may.
Get the height right
This butterfly’s wings were closed, so Heather told Julie to position the camera at the same height to make the wings look sharp.
Heather moved one of the SB-R200 flash heads to one side of a butterfly. This lightened the shrub and picked out the butterfly’s wings and antennae.
Switch on image stabilisation if your lens has that option. This will reduce camera-shake when you’re shooting handheld. Dispensing with a tripod provides more flexibility for reacting to changes in a subject’s position.
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Close-up photography tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day
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Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out