How to photograph people while going in close

  • Pictures of people do not all have to be head and shoulder or full length. There are many other areas of the body that lend themselves to being photographed. Some of these pictures can be evocative and sensual. Others can be character studies, such as shot of gnarled hands and wrinkled skin.
     

  • Most standard lenses will not focus close enough, and a close up attachment of some kind will be needed: extension rings, bellows or a macro lens. Close up lenses that fit onto the front of an existing lens like a filter are available, but the quality of the image is not very good. Some telephoto lenses can also be focused to quite short distances and will give excellent close up shots. With all these devices depth of field is very limited.
     

  • For close up work the camera has to be kept perfectly still and it is advisable to use a tripod. In particular, extension tubes and bellow reduce the amount of light passing through the lens, so that exposures have to be long. They are made even longer by the need to sue a small aperture to make the most of the available depth of field. When using available light, and with the lens stopped down to f22 or even f32, an exposure of 1 second or more may be needed. The subject also has to be kept still, which can be difficult.
     

  • If lighting a close up picture with flash, be careful of shadows. What looks acceptable from a distance may be harsh and ugly in close up and dominate the picture. As the camera will be only a short way from the subject, it is vital to ensure that it does not cast its own shadow onto the area.

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