Getting Close and Personal

Cheryl Sacks Presentation

Cheryl Sacks came in and discussed the topic of “Close-Up” photography with us. For clarification for anyone who didn’t make our meeting, macro is definitely allowed, but is not required for the competition. For Close-Up, we are mostly concerned about getting as close and personal as you can to your subject, closer than you normally would, while still making the composition interesting.

Cheryl mentioned ways to get close (and I’ll add to it):
  • Get as close as your focus will allow. Telephoto lenses can help.
  • (By using a narrow aperture and the depth preview button, you may be able to get even a little closer)
  • Crop in close when processing. (A 1024×768 image is less than 1mp. You have, what, 24mp or more to work with? You can afford to crop)
  • Macro lenses and close-up filters allow you to focus closer than you would normally be able to.
She also reminded us to make good photos.

Getting close-up and personal is important here, but don’t forget the qualities that make for a good photo! Composition, lighting, lines that draw the viewer’s eyes into the shot, etc… Cheryl encouraged the use of tripods and camera triggers to take as sharp a photo as possible. The closer you get, the more wind might become a factor, so find a way to block it or use a faster shutter speed to account for the motion.

Watch your backgrounds for distractions. With close-ups, you can change what’s behind your subject by moving a few inches to the side. The closer you are, the easier it becomes to blur your background, which will also get rid of distractions.

Some other thoughts for awesome close-ups:
  • Rainy days are coming and make for some outstanding close-ups with water drops on your subject, although you can “cheat” with a spray bottle.
  • Depth of Field. Most dSLR’s have a way to preview this. Read your manuals and find it. The closer you get, the smaller the area that’s in focus, so it’s best to know what parts of your photo will be sharp.
  • Dragonflies and butterflies don’t fly early in the morning when they are still cold or covered with dew. If you find them in your garden at these times, you can get pretty much as close as you need without them flying away.
  • Avoid competing subjects. Choose what you want the viewer to notice and take attention away from anything else. Do this using selective focus, cropping out the distraction, changing your perspective, etc…
  • The closer you get, the worse any defects will appear. If going full macro, you will find dust, tiny hairs, and countless other imperfections on just about everything. Defects distract. Do what you can to avoid them. An air blower usually works.
  • Speaking of perspective, think creatively about yours. Shooting up from the base of a flower may give us a fascinating view we wouldn’t normally think to get. Looking straight down on a subject is rarely as interesting as being “eye level” with it.

Another Word on Macro

Again, ours is a Close-Up competition, not a Macro competition. Macro certainly falls within the scope of Close-Up photography, but we understand that most people don’t have the gear or experience with Macro to comfortably do a Macro-Only competition. Still, I’m sure there are people interested in trying their hand at Macro, who may not know where to start. Early next week, I’ll be doing a blog post specifically about doing Macro Photography help a bit with that. If there is enough interest, I’m considering doing an introductory presentation on Macro later in the month to allow for some hands-on practice to people who don’t have the “proper” gear.

Next Meeting

March 19th, Cesar Silva will return to judge “Natural Landscapes”. The EOY dinner sign-up list will get passed around for the first time of the season.

Member Workshop

April 2nd is the night to learn techniques and skills from other members. Whereas I anticipate an outside-the-club person may be presenting, there is room for anyone who would like to share their knowledge/experience with us.

Upcoming Photo-Ops
  • Go Outside! – Seriously. As I write this, it’s cold, but the temperature is supposed to be going up. One week from now, we’re supposed to be consistently in the 40’s with at least one day in the 50’s. That’s t-shirt weather.
  • Bousquet’s 22nd Annual Irish Olympics – March 16th. There will be the slush run (where they ski down a hill and across a stretch of green slush). There will be the torch light parade. There will be corn beef & cabbage… Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

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