Digital Photography: Capturing Close-up Shots

Lesson 8: Capturing Close-up Shots


Capturing closeup shots

A close-up photo of a flowerA close-up photo of a flower

Sometimes you may want to take closeup shots of flowers, insects, food, or any kind of small object. This is known as macrophotography. In macrophotography, the object in the photograph is larger than life size, so it can reveal details and textures you might not normally see.

One of the most significant challenges with closeup shots is focusing. As you move the camera closer to an object, the depth of field becomes shallower. This means if the focus isn't exactly right, your image may be way out of focus. In fact, you may not even be able to have the entire object in focus; often, you'll have to focus on the most important part of the object and let the rest of the object be out of focus.

For example, in the photo below some of the petals are in focus, but most of them are not. This gives the photo a soft appearance while still showing the texture of the petals.

A photo with very shallow depth of fieldA photo with very shallow depth of field

The following tips can help you get the most out of your closeup photographs:

  • Use the Closeup scene mode or Macro mode. These modes allow the camera to focus on objects that are only a few inches away. Also, the Closeup scene mode will always focus on the center of the image, which makes focusing easier.
    Selecting the Close-up scene modeSelecting the Close-up scene mode
  • Watch the auto-focus. Closeup shots have a shallower depth of field, so it's important to make sure the camera is focusing on the object and not the background. If you're using the Closeup scene mode, you can do this by keeping the object in the center of the frame.
    The focus indicatorThe focus indicator
  • Once the camera focuses, don't move it. If you move your camera after it focuses, your photo may come out blurry. If you want to move the camera, you'll have to refocus it and then take the photo.
  • Avoid using flash. Your camera's flash won't work on closeup objects, so it's best to turn it off.
  • Try shooting in cloudy weather. If you really want to bring out details in your outdoor closeup shots, you might want to try shooting in cloudy weather. Bright sunlight can create dark shadows that block out many of the details, but sunlight that is filtered by clouds is much softer.