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Photographing Details: Developing Your Close-up Vision

by Kerry Drager

Old Gears
Old Gears
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved
This article is excerpted from Kerry Drager's BetterPhoto.com course: Details and Close-ups

The smaller view can sometimes reveal more about a subject than the broader perspective. Plus, focusing your attention on intimate subjects can be fun and creative.

"Bad" weather? A white sky is great for working on a small canvas - to take advantage of the beautifully soft-and-even light. Can't find anything to shoot? Look closer! In fact, after you get used to finding the "picture within the picture" - as it's been called - you'll soon find yourself lost in a world of fine details and intimate scenes!

An Eye for the Details
Of course, it's sometimes easy to miss the smaller scene within the bigger view - especially when the grand-scale scenic is so awe-inspiring. The trick to finding good detail images is to be aware. After shooting that initial overall impression, for example, then start limiting your scope of vision. You'll need to sloooooow waaaaaay down and analyze your scene in order to isolate some of the photogenic parts that make up the whole.



Bentley Reflection
Bentley Reflection
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved
Survey your surroundings for interesting fence posts, flower pots, doors, signs, architectural ornaments, reflections (glass, chrome, or water), intricate ironwork, eye-catching doors, or an arrangement of mosaic tiles. The intimate side of photography operates with people portraits, too, and even on animals - photos that may reveal little more than the face.

Also start thinking about composition (check different camera angles and viewpoints, such as higher or lower) and about how light impacts your scene (your subject's angle to the sun, plus early or late day, and in overcast).

Equipment Choices

  • "Regular" lenses: There's no need for fancy equipment for capturing photogenic details and close-ups! Sure, you may not be able move in super-tight on tiny objects - that's what macro specialty equipment is for - but you might be surprised how close you can get with everyday gear. This applies to any focal length ... whether wide, "normal," or telephoto.

  • Supporting the camera: In close-up photography, any camera vibrations are magnified with blurred images. I'm a big believer in using a tripod for all stationary scenes - for not only the ultimate in image quality, but also for fine-tuning compositions. Be sure to check out my article - The Accessory Photographers Love to Hate - at BetterPhoto.com.


    This article is excerpted from Kerry Drager's BetterPhoto.com course: Details and Close-ups




    About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Kerry Drager
    Photography Instructor: Kerry Drager
    The content manager and course advisor for BetterPhoto.com, Kerry Drager is also the co-author of two books: The BetterPhoto Guide to Creative Digital Photography (2011) and The BetterPhoto Guide to Photographing Light (2012). In addition, he teaches photography online at BetterPhoto's digital photography school. See his instructor bio and list of courses...

    Be sure to check out Kerry's Pro BetterPholio website - www.kerrydrager.com.

    Also, he is the author of Scenic Photography 101, the photographer of the photo-essay books The Golden Dream: California from Gold Rush to Statehood and California Desert , a contributor to the books BetterPhoto Basics and Daybreak 2000, and a co-photographer of Portrait of California. In addition, Kerry was profiled in the April 1994 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine and in Vik Orenstein's 2010 book The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business, and his website was showcased in the January 2003 issue of Shutterbug magazine. Plus, his work has appeared in magazines, Hallmark cards and Sierra Club calendars, and in advertising campaigns for American Express and Sinar Bron Imaging.

    Also see his Visual Creativity photography blog, and follow Kerry on Facebook.

    Kerry lives with his wife, Mary, on California's Central Coast, with their three Newfoundland dogs, four cats, and a mixed terrier.


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