Day 1 Battle of the Close-up Photography Tips: Pons vs. Sammon

Photographs by Rick Sammon
All this week: the Battle of the Close-up Photography Tips: Juan Pons vs. me! 

Hey, this is all in good fun!

Away we go:

Me: Make your own backgrounds. The background can make or break a shot. For the top two photographs, I placed an inkjet print of a photograph that I took of a leaf behind the cute critters, which were hanging out in our kitchen.

To simulate different aperture settings (wide and small), I blurred my original photo in Photoshop using the Gaussian Blur filter.

I have also been known to use black and green t-shirts as backgrounds. Yes! I have given the shirt off my back for a photo.

And speaking of the background, use the depth-of-field preview button on your camera to make sure background elements add to or detracts from the main subject.

Both pictures were taken with my Canon 100mm macro lens (set at f/16 for good depth of field):


Canon MR 14-EX Macro Ring Lite (for shadowless lighting):


Photograph by Juan Pons
Just because you are taking a close-up shot, it does not mean that you must exclude everything but your subject. I believe the most interesting images are those that tell a story or at least tell you a bit about your main subject. Take the example of this image of a Grey treefrog. These little, feisty frogs are nocturnal, and they come out at night on rainy spring evenings to mate and lay eggs in vernal pools. While they may occasionally hop around on the ground, as they move from tree to tree, they spend most of their time up in trees. For protection, these small treefrogs depend on their camouflage to escape a predators notice.

By including the frogs habitat and environment, you "get" that they are nocturnal, and you can see first-hand their awesome concealment technique. If I had just taken a super tight headshot I would have passed on this great opportunity to convey these two aspects of my subject. Sometimes is pays not to get "too" close with your close-up shots.

I took this image right in my front yard where I have built a habitat for these frogs. The image was taken at 1:14am with a Canon EOS 5D MarkII and a Canon EF 180mm Macro lens at f/16 and 1/30th of a second at ISO 1600.
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Explore the light, 

P.S. For more info on close-up photography, and photography in general, check out my apps. Click here to start the photo fun!

Juan and I developed Butterfly Wonders together.