I was looking through some of the photos I’ve taken in the last few months. I got the EOS 6D last July for landscape photos, and that’s mostly what I’ve done with it. But I’ve taken a few closeup photos with it also, and I’ve just been amazed all over again with the level of detail it captures. So guess what? Time for another blog post!
This is the easiest type of closeup photography: Shoot with a telephoto lens so you don’t have to bend, kneel, or roll on the ground. The rule of photography in play here is: the closer you get to your subject, the shallower the depth of field becomes. So when I stood directly over the rocks and shot at 200mm, even stopping down to f/8 did not prevent the rocks just inches away from blurring. I used “Brilliance and Warmth” and “Pro Contrast” in NIK Color Efex Pro 4.
This was one of those moments when you see something and say to yourself “that would make a good photo!” I was taking out the trash from the back of the house and saw the sun peeking over the fence on this little mushroom in the lawn. I ran inside and grabbed my camera. 90% of what I use my nifty fifty (EF 50mm f/1.8) for is closeup photos, and that’s what I used here. This photo did require some kneeling, with elbows in the wet grass, in order to get the angle.
You can see from the flares that it has a five-blade aperture, compared to more expensive lenses, like my EF 35mm f/2 IS with it’s 8-blade aperture. Also, I can’t explain why, but the large flares direct from the sun appear tilted to the right, while the smaller flares from water drops in the grass appear tilted left. Fascinating! But I’m clueless as to why.
When I say “closeup” photos, I used that term in order to carefully avoid “macro”. Real macro photos taken with a macro lens or filters mean that the image hits the film or sensor at life size or larger. In none of these photos is that the case. I simply don’t have the right lens for true macro work. So they’re really closeup photos, and I like these kinds of photos because they require some creativity. You’re cropping out the entire world except a small subject and it’s immediate environment, and the challenge is to compose an interesting photo in spite of everything that’s missing. But we also know that many times simplifying a composition makes it a better one.
The EF 35mm f/2 IS was used for this photo, and I was brave enough to allow a shutter speed of 1/45 because it has the advantage of Image Stabilization. I also did more editing on this photo than the other two. First I applied a mild Topaz Clean effect. You’ll have to view the photo at 100% to see it on top near the bridge and neck. Next the photo went into NIK Color Efex Pro 4 for “Pro Contrast”, a Kodachrome 64 film effect, and a “Skylight” filter to warm up the image. All of these tools have adjustable parameters, and I rarely use presets because I think each image is different and benefits the most from unique settings and tweaking.
I didn’t plan this, but for each of these closeup photos I used a different lens. 200mm, 50mm, and 35mm. This illustrates that you can take closeup photos with any lens. Your angle of perspective and distance to subject will change, but it can be done.