Macro Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots
Creating a good printed book is always a process that involves many people. The folks at Peachpit Press have been terrific to work with. I thank Elaine Merrill, who has kept me focused on text that makes sense and has no distractions of wrong words and such for the reader. I thank Susan Rimerman, a strong guiding presence who always has the right answers. And there is Liza Brazieal, who makes sure photos are properly treated and that the whole production process goes well. Of course there are many others, from the master printer working the printing press to distributors and so much more. Thanks to all for making this book possible.
On a personal level, I thank all of my students over the years and the wonderful folks who have become my friends on Facebook and the Internet. You have all helped me stay focused on clearly communicating about the nature and photography you and I love. I also have to acknowledge all of the terrific help I have received over the years from rangers and naturalists in national and state parks throughout the country. In addition, I thank Chuck Summers as my spiritual advisor (he and I both consider nature photography a spiritual pursuit).
And of course, I thank my beautiful wife of many years who is always supportive and helps create an environment at home that allows me to do my books. Thank you, my love!
Close-up and macro photography have become easier to do and more accessible for all photographers. Even point-and-shoot cameras often have a close-up mode, some allowing shots as close as an inch away from the subject. For the photographer with a DSLR, the options for close-up work expand greatly and are explored in this book.
One of the very cool things about close-up work is that it allows you to take a picture of a subject to see it better. We don’t often get in close to the world and so many of the small details pass us by. Any close-up photo will show you detail that is largely unseen by all of us, and certainly if we only casually look at the subject
This book will show you a whole range of techniques to truly take you beyond the snapshot and get you great shots. But I will warn you—this type of shooting can be addicting! Since you can do it almost anywhere, you may find yourself constantly discovering new subjects up close all around you, which can be frustrating if you don’t have a camera nearby.
I want you to feel encouraged as you explore some amazing worlds of the close-up. Sometimes photographers feel inadequate next to more advanced photographers, feeling they need more knowledge, different gear, and so forth. While it is true that experience can help you with the craft of photography and with better realizing your vision as a photographer, you also can take wonderful close-up photos with whatever your skill level and whatever your gear. This book will offer some ideas to help you grow as a photographer of the details around us. But don’t let anyone keep you from experimenting just as you are right now, even if you are still learning.
Do you know what the best gear is? The gear you have and can use right now. The gear that sits on “Someday Isle” isn’t helping you right now, and it might never be useful to you. This book will tell you how to choose and use gear for close-up work and also what true macro gear might actually be.
I’m going to show you how to deal with sharpness challenges up close and offer some techniques so you can get images as sharp as the pros do. I’m also going to offer some ideas on why different focal lengths can be important for good close-up work, focal lengths you may already have but just need the right accessory to help you focus closer. In fact, sometimes a true macro lens can keep photographers from their potential with close work because it is only one focal length
Light is of course critical to any photography, but there are some nuances to working with it up close. You will learn how different types of light affect the close-up subject and even how these nuances can affect how you photograph. Light can change the approach you need for close-up work. You’ll also find some information on using added light up close, such as flash and LED lights.
Finally, I want to help you try your skills with all sorts of subjects, so I include a chapter on getting close to different subjects. You will find a variety of subjects scattered throughout the book in the photos I have chosen because I want to encourage you to engage with different subjects with your own photography. If you are in a location with an iconic scene such as a range of mountains, your choices for subject matter are somewhat reduced when doing landscapes. But with close-ups, your subject matter is unlimited. Without even leaving the parking lot, you could spend a great deal of time exploring the macro world around you.
Above all, I hope you have fun. We don’t even have to change that Star Trek imperative to have it work without ever leaving earth! “Explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life … to boldly go where few [photographers] have gone before.”
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