Close-up

There is no form of nature photography that carries you and those who view your images, “into” the subject, like close-up photography.  No matter what kind of photography is your specialty, if you have never done some type of close-up photography, you are missing a form of art, detail and intimacy.

Notice today’s post was not titled Macro. That is because close-up photography includes even more than macros. If you photograph the eyes only of an African Elephant, by elephant standards, that is a close-up, although not a macro by photography standards.

Animals like Painted and Snapping Turtles can be easy subjects for close-up images.  On the other hand doing close-ups of feisty critters like the Northern Water Snake, takes a little knowledge, some skill and practice.  Also no small mount of luck.DSC_2220Snapper2008 026

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If you are short of time or money, public zoos are great places to make close-ups of predators like bears (Andean) or lions. I made these and many others while teaching beginners wildlife workshops in a zoo.  I generally used lenses from 100-300mm for animals like this, but at times I would use my 500 for instructional purposes.Lions, bears, tigers 083Dsc_1508bSls 044DSC_5127

Getting down on your hands and knees, with camera, tripod and macro lens, is the most rewarding experience you can have.  The list of subjects is infinite, and that is not an exaggeration.

I cannot tell you how often other photographers have complained to me that there is nothing to photograph today. Same ole birds, no compelling landscapes, etc., etc..  There is always something to photograph when it comes to close-up photography.  It is just waiting for you to “see” it.

Sure……insects and flowers, but what about winter?

This super close-up shot of blue ice is real “as delivered” by nature. In the shade of a building this ice is reflecting the blue sky that lives just beyond the shade. Understanding the color of light is important in every form of photography.3DSC_4240

A very different ice image in very different light.Slides2 044bc

Autumn isn’t just about landscapes.  Fall is a prime season for detail and design. Such as the patterns and colors of leaves.FallPets 005FallIllBeach 097

There is no question that little critters are both interesting and diverse.  There is also money to be made selling these subjects to magazine and book publishers.  Look beyond butterflies and dragonflies for subjects. Butterfly and moth caterpillars are plentiful, unusual, and relatively easy to photograph.  Think beyond even stock photos and on to art and abstracts with these crawling jewels.8VPatBugs 010SRdeerCat 044

It is true that you cannot always make those clean, artist type images with insects. Make the best shot you can. Try photographing what other photographers ignore. Wasps need a little photographic love too.Iscts 149

When you photograph a popular subject like dragonflies, try to go beyond what others do and move in (or crop) as much as possible.DflyIBeach 025

Probably the best known and most loved close-up subject, is flowers.Copy of Lily 035D70Flowers 006

Sometimes when we crawl around looking for close-up subjects, or when we get a close shot of an animal, we forget to compose our images. The closer you get the fewer your options are, but the slightest shift in one direction or the other, can make the difference from a loser to a winner.Copy of HorA17 216

I try to locate for the readers of this blog, some of the best nature (and other) photographers to be found.  Some come from Facebook or Flickr Photos but wherever I might find them, I pass them along.

ClayBolt is a top macro nature photographer and a trip to his site should be worth the visit. Clay is more natural history oriented than art, but I think you’ll find your share of crossovers.  I truly enjoy sharing the work of others and you might want to try Clay Bolt.

It is always difficult for me to decide on how technical to get when I write an article.  The readers of Earth Images range from newcomers to full-time pros. I try to write some posts that are technical and some that contain no technical info, and on to others that are about the subject or the story behind the image. I just hope that over the long haul, I will find something to write about for everybody.

I hope all of you are having fun with your photography this winter. Having something to do that you’re passionate about, makes the winter a season of joy, instead of despair.  While some of my most personal moments in nature came during the winter, I sure do miss those more social times.  In particular great winter days with Snowy Owls and Bald Eagles and human friends as well.  As is often the case with me, most of those human (and bird) friends are out of contact with me now, making those moments even more special.

Alone or with friends, enjoy this winter before it is all over. When it seems a little cold, or like there isn’t really anything to photograph, just think what it will be like when you no longer can go out on a winter’s day, and practice the art of photography.   You will wish you had made the most of every second.

God bless,                                                                                                                                        Wayne

As a complete aside, happy to see Wisconsinite Matt Kenseth dominate the Daytona 500, sorry to see his car fail.  He was going for win number 3.  Congrats to Jimmy Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus on the victory.  Chad is from northern Illinois and I photographed many an ASA and Artgo race with his dad John being a participant (driver).

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