Tips For Taking Extreme Close Up Photos Of Live Subjects

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Extreme close up photography, also known as macro photography, can be difficult to an inexperienced photographer. However there is a big difference between a close up of a computer chip's circuitry and a close up of the wing of a dragonfly.

Getting Close

Photographers use a number of artificial techniques such as chilling or gluing to keep live subjects still. In some cases the live subjects aren't actually alive. However there is something about capturing a living creature in a natural setting that these kinds of artificial setups can't match.

Live subjects may get spooked as the photographer gets close. The best close up photography requires the patience of a hunter. It may take many long minutes of slow movement to get close enough to snap a detailed picture. Often, just as the photographer is about to snap the picture, the subject wanders out of frame. As frustrating as it is, all the photographer can do is remain calm and try again. Human subjects often aren't much less skittish. Close up images used in fields such as medical photography can make subjects feel nervous or self-conscious and the photographer must be patient and wait for the subject to be ready.

The Perfect Image

Natural subjects often benefit from natural lighting. The perfect outdoor environment is brightly lit but also lightly overcast to minimize shadows. Of course Mother Nature is not always that cooperative, so photographers need to be prepared with artificial lighting. Direct flash is typically too bright, so flashes need to be diffused or reflected to give less harsh lighting. Long exposure times in dimmer lighting are possible if the camera and subject are both very still.

Automatic focus may be fine for far away shots but isn't precise enough for close up photography. Manual focus allows fine changes that can turn a mediocre image into a breathtakingly sharp picture. Manual focus can be frustrating at first but with time allows photographers to hit that sweet spot quickly and easily.

Framing The Subject

A common mistake in close up photography, or in fact any kind of photography, is to put full attention on the subject and nothing on composition. The subject is only one element in the photograph and ignoring other parts of the image yields lower quality photographs.

Backgrounds can detract from the subject. A subject that looks clear and perfect to the naked eye may get lost against a busy background in a photograph. Other objects in the frame can draw a viewer's eye away from the subject. Proper composition is not only aesthetically pleasing but is also important in scientific photography because it enhances the information presented in the image.

High quality close up photography takes experience and patience, but the breathtaking final images will make your efforts worthwhile.
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Christine Harrell has 1 articles online

Author is a freelance writer. For more information on close up photography please visit

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Tips For Taking Extreme Close Up Photos Of Live Subjects

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This article was published on 2010/12/08