Readers Photo Challenge assignment: Let’s get small!

Often photographers concern themselves with grand vistas but for the latest Readers Photo Challenge assignment we are asking you to think on a smaller scale. Closeup or macro photography explores realms of the overlooked and unseen.

TOP: A fork in the kitchen of Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 50mm macro lens. BOTTOM LEFT: A rose photographed with a 50mm macro lens in Record photographer Clifford Oto’s backyard. BOTTOM RIGHT: Record photographer Clifford Oto’s dog Maisie’s eye photographed with a 50mm macro lens in his back

Flowers are often the subjects of macro photography but almost anything will do. If you look carefully and closely a household item you find surface details and textures. Insects can seem as big as horses water drops can look like jewels. The surface of a cookie can look like an alien landscape.

(4/22/20) Lemon tree flowers photographed by Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 300mm telephoto lens inns backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Technically a closeup is any photo with which you shoot at the lens’s minimum focus. Depending on the lens could be a few inches to a few feet. But there are things you can use and do to get even closer.

(4/22/20) A rose photographed with a 50mm macro lens in Record photographer Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Macro lenses are one designed to get in close. They usually can get a 1:2 to 1:1 reproduction, meaning the image on the sensor is half to the same size as it is in real life. Macro lenses can cost as little $250 (relatively affordable) up to around $900. Still, even the cheapest of macros can be too much for some.

(4/22/20) A dew-covered blade of grass photographed with a 50mm macro lens in Record photographer Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Close up filters are just what they sound like, glass filters that screw into the end of an existing lens and act like magnifying glasses. They are made in varying strengths and can even be stacked upon each other to increase their magnification even more. The downside of the filters is that they aren’t as sharp as a macro lens. Stacking them further degrades that sharpness. A set of closeup filters can cost $50 to $100, depending on the quality. Those auxiliary macro “lenses” for smartphones are essentially just closeup filters.

(4/22/20) Water drops cling to a screen door at the home of Record photographer Clifford Oto photographed with a 50mm macro lens. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

The last technique for closeups is reversing the lens. All you have to do is to take a lens and turn it around so that its front is placed against the camera and it’s back end is pointed towards your subject. This allows you to get sun very close. You’ll have to physically hold the lens in place or you can get what’s called a reversing ring which mounts onto camera and you can screw the turned around lens onto it. The main downside to reversing the lens is that you won’t be able to control the aperture. Exposure will only be manipulated through shutter speed and ISO.

(4/22/20) Iris leaves photographed by Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 300mm telephoto lens inns backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Using a telephoto for a closeups can get you pretty close just not 1:1 or 1:2 reproduction. If you don’t have a macro you might get some satisfying results by using a telephoto and then cropping afterward.

(4/22/20) A rose bush photographed by Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 16-24mm wide-angle zoom lens in his backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

Using a wide-angle at it’s minimum focus can bring some interesting results. The best way to use one is use its minimum focus on your main subject and let everything else fall into the background. It’s a great technique for storytelling. The downside is that you have to pay extra careful attention to the background for unwanted details.

(4/22/20) A thin oatmeal cookie photographed in the kitchen of Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 50mm macro lens. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

The biggest obstacle to macro photography isn’t equipment, it’s mindset. We’re all used to seeing the overall picture but with closeup pictures we have to think in detail and textures. In effect, we have to stop seeing the forest for the trees but rather seeing things the other way around.

(4/22/20) A rose leaf photographed with a 50mm macro lens in Record photographer Clifford Oto’s backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

How to enter:

1. Entries can be emailed to coto@recordnet.com. The preferred format is jpeg. Type in “Closeup” in the subject line.

2. Photos have to be taken between April 28 and May 12.

3. The number of photos is limited to 10.

4. Include your name (first and last), hometown, the kind of device you used, how you got your close up, what it is of and where the photo was taken (eg.: John Doe of Stockton, Canon Rebel T6i with 50mm macro lens. A rose at Victory Park).

5. If there is a recognizable person or persons in the photo please identify them (name, age, hometown) and describe what is going on in the photo (eg.: “Jane Done, 9, holds a key in her hands at her home 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 May 12. The top examples will be published on May 19 with an online gallery of all the photos on the same day at recordnet.com.

(4/22/20)
Lemon tree leaves photographed by Record photographer Clifford Oto with a 300mm telephoto lens inns backyard. [CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD]

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