Lesson 1:Introduction – Ultimate Photo Tips

bee on poppy

All photographs and textual content © Julie Waterhouse, all rights reserved worldwide. No type of copy or utilization (together with copying in entire or partially, or altering of digital picture and textual content information) is permitted with out the categorical written permission of Julie Waterhouse.


Whenever you see a flower, your mind rushes to label it.  “Flower!” it exclaims loudly and proudly.  This voice that labels objects round us is important in a world the place we’re continuously bombarded by visible stimuli.  With out this labeling and categorizing mechanism, we might develop into overwhelmed with info.  Nevertheless, the mind’s labeling system works towards the photographer.  As soon as we determine and label an object, we frequently don’t look any additional.  When that occurs, we miss out on actually seeing. “Tree,” says our mind.  After which the thing is dismissed with out noticing the sleek curve of the department, or the best way the wind is blowing by means of the leaves, or the silhouette that it varieties towards the skyline – all potential photographic alternatives. 

When photographing topics shut up, pictures typically turn into summary, since you’re seeing solely a portion of the topic.  This takes away your mind’s potential to simply label, and instantly, you’ll be able to actually see.  Your consideration is now guided to the strains, shapes, textures, and patterns of the topic, that are the elementary constructing blocks of all pictures.  Studying to show off labeling once you take a look at the world round you is a nice present for coaching the photographic eye.  Shut-up images will help you to hone this talent, and I consider that apply at close-up capturing will enhance the remainder of your images too.



If we’re going to have a course on close-up images, we’d higher outline it first! What’s the distinction between macro images and close-up images? Macro images, in its strictest definition, signifies that the topic is projected onto the movie or digital sensor at (no less than) the identical measurement as it’s in actual life, i.e., at a 1:1 ratio or higher. Most macro lenses do at the least half this properly, projecting pictures at half life measurement, or at 1:2. The most effective macro lenses handle true life measurement.

These days, many shopper lenses available on the market tout “macro capabilities.” This sometimes means a capability for close-focusing in order that the picture is life-size on a four”x6″ print, quite than on the movie or sensor. That quantities to a magnification of solely about 1:four, which requires decrease lens high quality.

Shut-up images is just a looser definition of macro images the place we don’t implement the requirement for 1:1 magnification of the topic on the sensor. As an alternative, we check with close-up images because the act of photographing a topic in shut vary in order that it fills the body.

For this course, it’s not essential that you’ve a real macro lens. What you do want is the power for shut focusing with the intention to fill your image body with small objects. In case you discover that you simply take pleasure in this type of images, you’ll in all probability need to purchase a real macro lens ultimately, as a result of it offers one of the best picture high quality.


bee on poppy
Bee on poppy
© Julie Waterhouse Images

This photograph can be thought-about “close-up,” however not true macro, because the bee was not life measurement on the sensor (it’s in all probability about life measurement on this picture). It was taken with a 100mm macro lens, however I used to be standing additional again than the closest potential focusing distance.



Let’s speak concerning the totally different sorts of kit you should use to do close-up images. There are a number of choices when it comes to lenses, and some must-have equipment.

Macro lens:
A macro lens permits focus from very shut to the topic.  A real macro lens magnifies the topic in order that the ratio of its precise measurement to its measurement on movie is 1:1 or larger. Macro lenses are sometimes present in three totally different focal size ranges. Lenses within the vary of 50mm-60mm are often used for product images and photographing small objects. The basic macro lens for photographing bugs, flowers and small objects is within the vary of 90mm-105mm. Lastly, you will get macro lenses within the vary of 150mm to 200mm, that are helpful for photographing bugs and small animals as a result of they provide you extra working distance out of your topic.

A tripod is used to stabilise the digital camera, and stop motion as a consequence of hand shake. A tripod is important for close-up images. As a result of you’re looking at such a small space of the topic, even tiny motion of the digital camera has a huge effect on the composition. Additionally, over an extended publicity, any shaking of the digital camera will trigger blur within the picture.

Cable or distant shutter launch:
A distant shutter launch reduces the digital camera shake brought on by your finger miserable the shutter button. Use it together with your tripod.

Mirror lockup:
Mirror lockup is a digital camera function used to scale back digital camera shake because of the vibration of the mirror.  On this mode, the primary launch of the shutter button raises the mirror, and the second takes the image. Seize your digital camera guide now, and work out easy methods to activate mirror lockup. It is best to use it whereas capturing shut up.

Extension tubes:
Extension tubes are attachments that include no optical parts (i.e., no glass), however are used with a lens to permit nearer focusing of that lens. Extension tubes are hooked up between your digital camera and your lens. They work by shifting your lens farther from the topic, which permits it to focus nearer. Often, they arrive in units of three. The tubes can be utilized individually, or stacked collectively.

Shut-up filter
An in depth-up lens, or close-up filter, screws onto the top of a daily lens, and provides it the power to focus a lot nearer to the topic. High quality varies enormously. There are some wonderful high quality two-element close-up lenses, however the majority are cheap single-element close-up lenses that produce photographs that lack sharpness. These are most frequently used on cameras with fastened lenses.

Teleconverter (multiplier):

Hooked up to the digital camera together with a lens, a teleconverter multiplies the focal size of the lens, often by 1.4x or 2x.  Your working distance from the topic stays the identical, however the picture is magnified. When utilizing a teleconverter, you’ll sometimes lose a cease of sunshine (i.e., you’ll require an extended shutter velocity for a similar publicity).

Lensbaby™ with macro attachment:

A Lensbaby is a specialty lens that has one ‘candy spot’ of focus, surrounded by graduated blur.  The purpose of focus and the quantity of blur can be managed by truly bending the lens.  Lensbaby macro attachments of 4x and 10x magnification may be screwed onto the entrance.  For those who haven’t heard about this nice toy earlier than, take a look at for extra info.  Plenty of enjoyable!



Lighting is a particular problem for close-up images. Utilizing a number of the gear above, you will discover your self together with your topic virtually touching your lens. In that state of affairs, it’s unimaginable to get a light-weight between the digital camera and the topic.

photographing outside
© Julie Waterhouse Images

I’ve all the time most popular the look of pure mild, so I do the overwhelming majority of my close-up images outdoor or utilizing a vibrant window mild. I exploit a tripod, and should typically shoot with lengthy shutter speeds if the sunshine just isn’t at full power. As a result of my normal material continues to be, I don’t have to be involved concerning the lengthy shutter speeds.

On this case, I needed to abandon my tripod to chase this little fellow round. I photographed him at 1/125s, and needed to open the aperture as much as f/four.5 to let in sufficient mild. Even then, I elevated my ISO to 320 to get an accurate publicity.

This was taken with a 100mm macro, so I wasn’t proper on prime of the topic.



One other option to cope with the lighting is to make use of an extended macro lens (within the 100mm to 200mm vary) that permits you higher working distance. This manner, you’ll be able to match a light-weight between digital camera and topic.

Lastly, a hoop flash with flash tubes in a circle across the lens can present a workable lighting answer. At present, steady LED ring lights are additionally out there to mild the topic.


Hints and Ideas


Working Distance

In close-up images, you could have solely a small working distance between the digital camera and the topic. Capturing together with your digital camera near your topic offers particular challenges.  Any motion of both digital camera or topic is tremendously magnified.   A tripod, distant shutter launch, and mirror lockup can scale back motion resulting from digital camera shake. 

Method 1: You have to take care when composing your picture to make small and exact changes as you refine your composition; a motion of your digital camera by as little as half an inch will drastically change the composition when the topic is simply inches from the lens. 

Method 2: For mirror lockup to be efficient, you need to use it at the side of a distant shutter launch. It’s no good eliminating the vibration of the mirror arising, in the event you’re nonetheless going to be urgent down on the shutter with huge, clumsy fingers! The primary press of your distant cable launch will increase the mirror. After that, WAIT a couple of seconds for the vibrations brought on by the mirror lifting to stop. Solely then do you have to press the distant launch a second time to take the shot. Too typically, I watch individuals make two fast presses in succession. What’s the purpose? In the event you’re going to try this, chances are you’ll as nicely not hassle with mirror lockup within the first place!

Working with Mom Nature

Different difficulties come up when your topic is shifting.  Right here’s the place you’ll want to get artistic.  Somewhat sugar water is perhaps sufficient to cease an ant in its tracks.  Photographing bugs very early within the morning, whereas their wings are nonetheless coated in dew, they usually can’t fly away, could be useful.

bee on lupine
Bee on lupine
© Julie Waterhouse Images

Keep in mind, if you find yourself photographing reside topics in Nature, you need to make sure that to not stress your topic by getting too shut, or interfering with it in a destructive method.  When you take away any particles round your topic to remove distractions, all the time put it again afterwards. Some crops depend on the duvet. Be mild with flowers, and don’t break off any buds. Flowers have to bloom and produce seeds with a purpose to survive. Take string or velcro ties into the sector to carry again stray weeds or branches, as an alternative of breaking them off.

The underside line? All the time be respectful, and care for Nature.








Connecting Emotionally

Images is a wedding of technical talent and creativity.  Each are important elements in making profitable pictures.  On this course, we’ll spend a variety of time on the technical aspect of issues, however proper now, I need to spent a second on the artistic aspect.

For me, the start of any good picture lies in figuring out what has attracted me to my chosen material. Why have I chosen it? Once we are doing our artistic images, we’re often drawn to our topic by some type of emotional pull. Most frequently, that is instinctive, and the rationale for the draw might by no means attain our acutely aware minds. I’d wish to encourage you to vary that. Earlier than capturing a topic, I’d such as you to attempt to analyse why you’re drawn to it. I consider this evaluation is step one in enhancing your photographs.

“The only most necessary element of a digital camera is the twelve inches behind it.”
–Ansel Adams

When you perceive what has attracted you to a specific topic, you’re then capable of choose the correct instruments out of your technical toolkit to strengthen your message. This course will give you new instruments in your close-up toolkit. It is going to additionally attempt to train you when and why to make use of every one as a way to talk your artistic decisions most successfully.

Task #1:

Please use this task as a chance to acquaint (or reacquaint) your self with all of your
gear. Take the time to arrange your gear, discover ways to use mirror lockup, and take a number of pictures.
On this task, you’ll train that magical 12 inches behind the digital camera, the place your feelings

1. Make three close-up photographs the place you are feeling a robust emotional connection to the topic.

Briefly describe in phrases:
a) what emotion you felt as you made the picture (e.g., pleasure? unhappiness? awe? one thing else?)
b) what it was concerning the topic that attracted your consideration? (e.g., the color? the curve of a petal?
the empty area across the topic? one thing else?)

It’s very useful to grow to be consciously conscious of your reactions to your material, and the
selections you often make instinctively and subconsciously.

Glad capturing!


All pictures and textual content © Julie Waterhouse, all rights reserved worldwide. No type of copy or utilization (together with copying in entire or partially, or altering of digital picture and textual content information) is permitted with out the categorical written permission of Julie Waterhouse