How to Take Close-Up Pictures

Do you want beautiful product photos? Or, are you a nature buff and you want bright, clear photos of your favorite flower? Whatever your reason this article will help you to do just that.

“Get up, get down, get ready, get steady, get close and get very personal.”

I use this mantra when taking close-up shots (AKA macro photography).

I’ve spent many years trying (and failing miserably) to get that perfect close-up photo. I’ve made every error under the sun, including but not limited to:

  1. Getting too close so the camera won’t focus
  2. Moving too far away so I get a big chunk of background in
  3. Not holding the camera steady enough so photos come out blurry
  4. And many more…

After making every error you can think of I’ve finally managed to crack it—to get that elusive clear, crisp close-up shot. Hallelujah! Praise the lord!

macro flowers

photo by Nana B Agyei

Now, before I begin, I’d just like to say I’ve been using the magnificent Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S lens on a Nikon D5000 camera using natural light (no artificial lighting here I’m afraid), but the principles apply to most modern cameras. The results however will vary depending on which camera and lens you’re using.

Onward and upward! Here’s a list of things I do to get that perfect shot:

  1. Place your object somewhere near an open window so you get natural light with soft shadows. Notice how I said near, not at the window—half a meter to one meter should do it.
  2. Open the aperture as far as it will go. On my lens it’s f/1.8, but you should open it as far as it will go on yours.
  3. Have a reasonably fast shutter speed so you don’t get motion blur.
  4. Hold the camera very steady, ideally using a tripod if you have one so you don’t get motion blur.
  5. Move as close to the object as you can whilst being able to maintain auto-focus. If you have manual focus and know how to use it then you’ll be able to get even closer.
  6. If you don’t have manual focus or you don’t know how to use it then use your zoom to get even closer.
  7. Hold steady and fire!

Now there is a cautionary note here. At aperture f/1.8 you will only get 1 point (and a small surrounding area) in focus. The rest of the photo will be out of focus. If that’s your intention then great, but if you want the whole thing in focus you should close your aperture a little to f/2.5 upwards. This will mean that you need to decrease you shutter speed a little to compensate; you’ll need to hold the camera even steadier.

About the Author:
Mo Azam is a professional photographer based in the UK.

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