Styles of close-up photos

One may like macro photos, while other is not. Nevertheless, close-up photography is an existing, living mood of presentation in photography. This special niche of nature photography was not included in the practice of the early photographers. Many a time it requires endurance, doggedness and boundless patience.
To be briefed, taking a good close-up shot is not an elegant reception with cold buffet.

How to make... Very many articles deal with the technical and technological aspects of close-up photography. These enlighten the different gadgets and also the theoretical background of the technology. I do not want to deal with this. Instead, I approach the theme from a different angle and try to outline the styles of the close-up photos as I behold them.

1. Displaying tiny things with as many details as possible.

Some people do not like this style either because of its documentary character or on account of the viewer's phobias. Some photographers, however, regard this work as a real challenge. The result may be an entrancing spectacle, as it may show interesting details not visible to the naked eye.

It is frequently encountered, that these type of photos (approaching to the microscopic technologies) stretch to the extreme large magnifications, where the circumambiency might not be included. Instead, the technological feat of skill dominates, also including, by chance, the power of software technology. This latter may generate animosity at people who disapprove of any follow-up manipulations on a nature photo. They are the viewers who like approaching a nature photo exclusively from the viewpoint of art, and want to see the photo in its original, intact condition.

Without determining the border between the close-up and the microscopic technology by numerical data (of magnification), I put the border to its natural place: shots taken through microscope are microscopic photos. Approaching the border from the close- up side, the technology of combining shots taken with slightly different focal plane might start.

An essential point should also be mentioned: in most cases microscopic photos are taken on preparations. Close-up shots are always taken upon the living nature.

Face to face


The spear
Some of these photos may also be used as illustrations for studies because of their documentary character. Remember, however, in this case broad knowledge is required on the species in question.

This style can mainly operate through its curiosity and its power of dazzle.

2. Shots upon small things in artistic approach

Many things can be implicated into this elastic category. It opens wide room for the creator to show up his/her mood of view and to luxuriate his/her fantasy.

In these photos fusion of sharp/unsharp details and harmony of colours (or tonality of grey scale) dominate. Composition of elements and balance of the photo are also important point. At that point, I would mention those (half-macro) trendy stiles where the background is emphasized at the cost of the main component. The main component (e.g. a butterfly) is small enough and contains not too much detail. Nevertheless, it remains an organic component.

In this category, the photos are fairly static. Besides this, they often receive the appreciative words so as: wonderful, picturesque. Perhaps, this latter is not too flattering word for the ears of a photographer, but anyway it can be a form of acclamatory appreciation for the creator.
Judgements of these photos are rather critical affairs, as the concept of "nice" is a pretty changeable and subjective matter (see "Art films" and "Market films"). Returning situations and solutions may result in boring photos.

Photos, belonging to this category, work mainly with the power of the sight, with the arrangement and form of the different colours and/or tonal spots. They may caress our sense of beauty and perhaps actuate our fantasy.

Wind-swept walz

Dream of an adolescent

..I get up with the rising sun..

3. Dynamic representation of tiny things

In the case of these photos the concept of "nice" is not so decisive and not such a primary factor as in the previous categories. The main theme is decently sharp and detailed. Its adherence to the environment is pretty strong. The photos may show eventful situations, and have a story. This story automatically provides the title of the photo.

The way as placing the main motive onto the backroom, or the tricks with the depth of field may bring in special dynamics for the photos. When the depth of field is very narrow, accessory things may endow some playfulness to the photo with their emergence from the unsharp region in different places. Photos with a narrow sharp area, which runs across the image on an otherwise fully unsharp field may emphasize the main motive but at the same time, drag it away from its environment.
Some kind of occurrence or event present on the photo may also add movement to the image.

On the first line, this style deals with the evident actions and the playfulness of the colour or grey scale spots.

Case of the long-haired fellow with the blue eyed little things


The mountaineer

The above outlined classification is based upon empiric facts, and provides only the spine of the possibilities. The photographer has the right to decide which of them is close to him/her. In the case of conscious work the luck has set in our favour – as some luck is necessary for the close-up photography, isn't it?

Back to the main page