Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Close to you

The newest Readers Photo Challenge assignment, “close up,” is a revisitation of one we did a few years ago.

Technically a close up picture is any photo in which whatever lens your using is at its minimum focusing distance. In other words, its as close as your equipment allows you to get. “Close-up” is also synonymous with macro photography. Technically, macro is a subject that is at least a 1:4 ratio to life-size on the camera’s sensor (or to a frame of film, if you’re so inclined).

The most obvious and best choice for closeup work is a macro lens. They can allow you to get a 1:1 reproduction which means if something is, say, 1-inch long in real life, then it’s the same size in your viewfinder. You can get closer with a bellows attachment which fits between the camera and lens, but that’s more complication and cost that isn’t a priority for most people. They run in price from about $250 to $1200, depending of the model and focal length.

You can also get close-up filters which are filters that screw into the end of your lens. The come in different strengths and are stackable, which means you can add multiple ones together for added magnification. the downside to filters that they usually aren’t as sharp as a macro lens. And sharpness decreases as you stack them. Their cost for set of filters goes from anywhere from $15 to $150, though a decent can be gotten for around $50-$60.

Lastly, there is technique for close up photography known as reversing the lens. It’s just what it sound like: You take the lens off your camera and turn it around so that the back end is facing outward. It may sound and look strange but it works. There are few downsides. First, it’s difficult if not impossible to control the aperture of a revered lens, so you’ll have to manage the exposure with shutter speed and ISO only. Secondly, reversing obviously requires you to rake if off the camera and hold it by hand against the body of the camera, but in doing so increases the chances of getting dust on your sensor which can show up as dark spots in your pictures. Costs are minimal: you already have the lens and camera. You can get a “reversing ring” which attaches the reversed onto the camera for about $10 to $15 or you can just hold the lens by hand.

Focusing is a simple affair. The best way to focus a macro lens is to turn of the autofocus, set the lens at it’s minimum focusing distance and move yourself in and out until the image is sharp.

Some of the most obvious subjects for close up photography are small objects. Flowers, insects and water droplets are common subjects. Look for anything with small details or textures, things that might be otherwise overlooked when viewed overall, like a coin, silverware or a person’s fingerprints.

While some types of photography such as landscapes, thinking on a grand scale is advantageous but with macro images one needs to think small.

How to Enter:

1. Email your entries to Type in “CloseUp” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be shot between Sept. 21 and Oct. 5.

3. Entries are limited to no more than 12 photos from each photographer.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, and the kind of camera/lens you used and where it was taken (e.g.: “John Doe of Stockton. Location: Stockton. Camera: Canon Rebel T3 w/ 55-300mm lens”).

5. If there is a recognizable person in the photo, please identify them (name, age, hometown) and what they are doing in the photos, and if they’re related to you. (e.g.: Jimmy Doe, 8, of Stockton plays in the grass at Victory Park in Stockton).

6. Please feel free to include any interesting anecdotes or stories on how you took the picture.

7. The deadline for submission is Thursday, Oct. 5.  A photo gallery of all the pictures submitted will be run on Oct. 12 at

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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