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It's a small world, and capturing it with a photograph can be challenging. In this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long takes you on a fantastic voyage into the realm of the tiny, detailing the gear and shooting techniques necessary to capture extreme close-ups of everything from products to posies.
After touring the possibilities of macro photography, the course details essential gear at several price levels, including lenses, flashes, and other accessories. Next, Ben explores the special challenges of macro photography: dealing with moving subjects, working with extremely shallow depth of field, focusing, lighting, and more.
The course also explores advanced close-up tools and post-processing techniques, such as using Adobe Photoshop to "stack" multiple shots to yield wider depth of field than a single shot can convey.
We are going to split some rhetorical hairs here, because in this course, I am going to draw a line between macro and close-up shooting, even though when you are shooting macro, you are actually close-up. As you will see, a photo is only a truly a macro photo if it has very specific characteristics. Close-up photos have no technical constraints or specificities. We are simply going to talk about close-up photography as the process of getting in closer to a subject than you normally would. If you have watched any of my other courses, you know I am a big proponent of getting closer to any subject matter. Closer usually means simpler in terms of composition.
As you get closer, you crop out extraneous details, and you focus the viewer's attention onto your subject. When I talk about close-up photography, I am referring to the process of getting close to small objects, or focusing on the details of large objects. This is the same thing you will do in macro shooting, but in close-up shooting, you are not going to get quite as close. Usually close-up photography means you are shooting something that's small, but still too big to warrant true macro shooting. Sometimes, you will employ close-up techniques, simply because of the small size of your subject, but at other times you might employ close-up techniques because your subject is too large.
Maybe you're a landscape shooter who can't figure out how to capture a big, broad vista in a way that really represents it well. Often the solution, in that situation, is to go for fine details, shoot close-ups of things that make up that broad vista. Close-up shooting can be a great thing to try when you are feeling stuck. Perhaps you had that feeling at home that you can't shoot around your house or in your neighborhood, because there is nothing to shoot there. Don't worry; all photographers get that. Our eyes go numb to the things that we see every day. But if you go out with the idea of shooting close-ups, finding interesting details, or tiny tableaus, little landscapes, you might find that there is a whole new realm of subject matter that you had previously missed.
For the most part, close-up shooting is no different than any other type of photography. It all starts with light, and you need to be constantly on the look out for good light in your small scenes. You need to have a firm understanding of exposure theory, you need to understand focal length and how it impacts your scene, and you need to know how to build a good composition. You can go deeper into all of these topics in the rest of my Foundations of Photography series. If you already feel comfortable with those things, then let's get started.
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