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 Poppies in the blue by kayaksailor
Poppies in the Blue
Daily Deviation 7/8/2015

Hello! My name is Ruth, though I am commonly known as kayaksailor on DeviantArt. I have been a photographer for most of my life, adding up to more than a half century of taking photos! I think I've fainted. I made the official switch from film to digital in May 2007 (about the same time as I joined DA) after getting my first dSLR, a Nikon D100, at a yard sale. As I am rather fond of flower gardens and the accompanying insects, those are my primary subjects and will be my examples for this article. Personal taste will dictate your scenes! Today's article will discuss some Depth of Field tips for Close-up flower photography!

Light and shadow by kayaksailor

First of all... What is a Close-up Photograph?

We will begin with two simple definitions of what Close-Up photography is:

  1. A photograph taken at close range or with a long focal-length lens.
  2. An intimate or detailed view.

 Hanging on... by kayaksailor

So... What is the Difference Between

Close-up and Macro Photography?

Many people equate Macro photography with Close-up photos. There are certainly similarities--as the photographer, you may be near the subject and the image may show tiny details--but the biggest difference comes down to the the ratio between the subject's actual size and how it is represented on the image. 

A Macro photograph is one in which there is a 1:1 ratio or greater between the size of the subject on your camera's sensor and the size of the subject in real life. If the size of the subject on your camera's sensor is smaller than the size of the subject in real life, you have a Close-up photograph. For many people the two terms are used interchangeably but having an understanding of the differences is important for categorizing on DA!

To me, the intent is to get the feeling of being IN the image.

Poppy Nightplay by kayaksailor

When it comes to Close-up photography, there are no hard and fast rules to which lens you use or exactly how close you have to be. But be prepared to get your knees dirty, maybe even your elbows and stomach too!

into the flowers by kayaksailor Snake Mom by kayaksailor In the shot by kayaksailor

Tip: I tend to use my zoom lenses, 28mm-300mm & 150mm-600mm, primarily due to the way they foreshorten objects and make the subjects feel closer than in reality.

Above the crowd by kayaksailor

Tip: A tripod is helpful, but not always necessary. If you do use one make sure it allows you to get close to the ground, depending on your subject.

Ok, I'm ready to learn what Depth of Field is!

An understanding of depth of field (DoF)–-how much of your photograph is in focus–-is helpful. Depth of field is controlled by your camera's aperture and the aperture on your camera is represented by f-stop numbers. Remember: As you change your f-stop you'll also need to adjust your shutter speed and ISO to compensate. I tend to shoot in aperture priority mode.

Shallow DoF

A shallow depth of field can be achieved by shooting with a large aperture (a lower f-stop number). With these smaller f-stop values, your lens has a larger opening, allowing more light into the camera. This allows the camera to focus more fully on your subject and leave the surrounding elements blurry. This helps to single out your subject (creating a point of interest) while at the same time reducing the effect of distracting background clutter:

Quail chick stretch by kayaksailor belly flowers by kayaksailor twist on fall foliage by kayaksailor
Complimentary Colors by kayaksailor Autumn Glow by kayaksailor Hanging on by kayaksailor

Deep DoF

A deep depth of field can be achieved by shooting with a small aperture (a high f-stop number). With these larger f-stop values, your lens has a smaller opening which restricts the amount of light entering the camera and causes your camera to capture the foreground and background in focus. This technique is not used as often in Close-up photography but is seen more often when shooting scenery:

Down in my valley by kayaksailor 

Experiment with a variety of f-stop depths to find what you like. Most mid-range to professional dSLR cameras have an f-stop “preview” button.

Tip: By pushing the button you manually close the aperture leaves down in your lens and you can see what will be in focus.

When choosing an f-stop, it is important to think about your subject and what you want to emphasize. If it is an insect, it is important to have the eyes in focus – a general choice. So you'll need to be aware of the depth of your focal plane; how deep the area in focus needs to be to capture all the details you want. Flowers are more forgiving so you can get a narrow band for a bit more of an abstract look.

Waiting for the sun by kayaksailor

And that's where the experimentation comes in! My biggest tip for Close-up Photography: 

Don't be afraid to take the same image with varying f-stops.

You may have an image in mind when you set out to capture a scene Close-up, but by trying different f-stops you may discover a photograph that truly delights you. 

down in the view by kayaksailor

Add a Comment:
Locke12069 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
very informative especially for a duffer like myself. I enjoy shooting with a shallow DoF, which is difficult with the clunker I use. It's a Sony DSC-H300 and allows very little actual manual F-stop control. Anyway I find your photography amazing.
kayaksailor Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017
Thanks so much! Here's another tip :giggle:  Light in the darkness by kayaksailor  (this is my daughter - we've found our cell phone lights to be really helpful!!)
Locke12069 Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
ty for the tip. would you mind looking though my gallery and giving me a little feedback. I know your probably really busy but any crits would be greatly appreciated.
VisualStripes Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial!
kayaksailor Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017
Thank you - easy to implement :D  

Another tip - your cell phone light!
Light in the darkness by kayaksailor
VisualStripes Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Another great tip! Thanks! :-)
Jorgipie Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2017  Hobbyist Photographer
Fantastic article and art!! I think you explained everything very well Clap 
kayaksailor Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2017
Thanks for looking! I have fun :giggle: 
DigiPainteR Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2017
Great article Ruth . . . ;-)
Lk-Photography Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial and extremely well explained :nod:

Thanks a lot for sharing! :w00t:
EyeOfTheKat Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Great tutorial - thank you! :heart:
surrealistic-gloom Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2016
Thank you!  :heart:
JocelyneR Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2016
Very interesting journal! I put it in my Tutorials category.

Thank you so much for sharing!  :hug:
Doc-Skitz Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Excellent tutorial!

How about a word about the background and coloring in the first image?
kayaksailor Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2016
:thumb445035929: was processed with some slider play in Lightroom - don't really remember what I did other than some slight color temperature changes... and then mostly hue and luminance along with split tone play... sorry I can't tell you more exactly.
Doc-Skitz Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It's a beautiful effect. Thanks.
Cmac13 Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2015   General Artist
well said indeed :clap:
gigi50 Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Very well written :clap:
GregorKerle Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2015  Professional General Artist
Well done :thumbsup::nod:
meihua Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2015
Great article, it was very informative! You are such a professional :D
serel Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2015
Very nice article.
StemmyBotanist Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Great article! Love the photo at the end (and the fluffy quail, omg). :happycry:
InayatShah Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Excellent Article
bear48 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Professional
nicely written 
StephGabler Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Professional Photographer
Great job!! :)
davincipoppalag Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
good stuff Ruth
Lintu47 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Love it :clap:
o0oLUXo0o Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015
Nice Job Ruth! Great Tip! and Great Images! :clap: Thanks for the info!
natureguy Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Nicely done Ruth!
 So many new and old photographers can learn a lot from this.

another tip you might want to add is using the cameras built in flash...this also helps to :highlight" the main subject, and yet gives a dark background. I use this technique when shooting my insect shots,especially for Caterpillars.

well written and super article ....
Queen-Kitty Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015   Photographer
Great tips and helpful advice!  I never have stopped to think about the difference between close-up and macro, so I loved that you included that definition!
JenFruzz Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
My favorite APN subject! Thanks for the tips :la:
pearwood Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Very good stuff.  Thanks!
8TwilightAngel8 Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2015  Professional General Artist
Great article and lovely images for the samples! :clap: Flower photography is something I really enjoy but I still struggle with it since I haven't dedicated as much time as other subjects I photograph. I hope to change that because I love the atmosphere those images create and they are fun to play with both in camera and during post processing.

In our intro photo class we had to do sample strips of apertures to practice and see the difference between each stop. We also did "extreme" aperture tests by going to the ends of our camera's f stop range (in my case f2.8 and f22). This was the sample I made - Nikon D7000 Aperture Comparison That might be a very good exercise for others to try^^
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