The Art of Being Close

Not long after the medium of photography began, photographers began searching for ways to get closer to their subjects. An extended bellows on an 8×10 (8×10 inch negatives) cameras allowed for closer focusing. As we moved on to medium format and then 35mm cameras, bellows again,  then extension tubes and finally macro lenses which all provided closer focusing on a subject and therefore a bigger appearing subject within the picture frame. Of course, cropping in the darkroom, took a normal image and featured a more frame filling view of a subject.  You simply only showed future viewers of an image, what you wanted them to see.

All of those above techniques apply to digital photography. Of course cropping, is done in the far less messy, and far safer digital darkroom of our computers. No poisonous liquids or gasses to get on our hands, in our eyes, or into our lungs. Gee I miss the old days!!

Any subject can become a macro shot or at least a close-up.

Flowers are a natural for close sup views. This flower was shot I am sure, from a very close range. I used my 105mm “micro” lens. Still, when I reviewed the image, I wanted edge to edge flower. Flower and nothing but flower. That often works best with flowers and other plants when the background is busy and unattractive.

Notice that image is still carefully composed. In a traditional fashion none the less.

What was actually the center of the blossom is composed to be near the top, and a bit to the left. That is the classic compositional tool called “power points”.  This image was made in 2008 and I had long before that, given up thinking in terms of compositional rules, as I never liked the concept of a “rule” of composition. I merely did what it felt right to do, and let my previous knowledge of those so-called rules take over when and how they might. Much the same way I attempted to allow whatever personal artistic vision I might have, no matter how small or thin it might be, to flow naturally.

Small critters such as insects or arachnids, are in most cases tiny in size, making it not just desirable but necessary to employ close-up or macro equipment or at least techniques, to capture images of such.

The spider below is one such example.

Once again my 105mm macro was used along with a sturdy tripod.  One of the hardest parts of making an image like this is that those strands of dewy orb web are touching plants all around you which are in turn touching other plants and on and one.  A very cautious, slow, methodical approach is necessary to complete the task without knocking off the dew, breaking a strand of web, or even knocking your main subject of its perch.

Once again, I instinctively used the power points compositional tool to create a more interesting composition. While in the editing process, I used a slight crop to bring future viewers even closer, and also to make the composition even better than I had accomplished while in the field.

Like most photographers I create close-ups of birds and other wildlife by getting as close as possible, and then using a long lens (500mm), and sometimes, I believe this is one of those times, add an extender (a small lens put between the lens and camera), to magnify the scene even more. With the extender, the lens was effectively 700mm.

This Barn Swallow image was carefully composed in the field to include the entire bird from the top pf its head to the tip of its tail feathers. The great preening pose was courtesy of the bird, and the beautiful light came from God. Well, it all came from God.

Close-up photography like any “type” of photography, is an art of its own. Then every subject and every set of circumstances is also its own form of art.

Next time you are out taking pictures, just remember how lucky you are to be able to create and share your personal vision, or point of view. That is the best part of photography. It helped people like me who could not draw a stick man, or could not write music, to create and share my vision of all that I saw when I was out with my cameras.

I thank each of you for the opportunity to share my images with you.


The power of the Holy Spirit of God is infinitely more powerful than the spirit of sin and death. Trust in God, accept Salvation through the Son, and spend eternity where the sun (Son) shines brightly.

God Bless,

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