Have you ever tried to do a close up shot of something? Maybe some jewelry or a lego mini figure. Did you have trouble trying to get it in focus enough so that all the details were visible? Well if you have not had much luck, here are a few tips for getting that close-up shot that you want. First of all you might want to consider buying yourself a close-up lens called a Macro lens. These are specially made lenses that alow you to focus very close to a subject and reproduce the subject either close to or at a 1:1 ratio of subject size to camera sensor size. Lenses come in sizes ranging from 60mm up to 200mm. The longer lenses allow you to be farther from your subject and still get a 1:1 reproduction. That is a good thing if you are trying to photograph a bee on a flower and you don’t want to get stung.
Another way to get up close is with a lens that has a Macro setting on it. It’s kinda like a faux Macro lens. My Canon 15-85 zoom has a setting like this which allowed me to get the two pictures below. I zoomed all the way to 85mm and then got very close. I was then able to use my focus ring to pick my point of focus. I could have set the focus as close as possible and then moved the camera into position until the image was sharp. This is kinda tricky and less forgiving than the first method.
So I layed my watch on the table and framed it to my liking and picked a focus spot close to the six o’clock position on the face of the watch. I picked this spot because it was about one third of the way into the scene. There is a lot of math you can do or apps that you can use to find your optimal or “hyperfocal” distance to focus on. I just like to use the 1/3 rule of thumb. I set my aperture to it’s smallest opening setting which was f32 in this instance for maximum depth of field.
As you can see in the above picture everything looks fairly sharp. For this image at this angle and f-stop things look pretty good. But check out the picture below. It’s very sharp.
For this image I use a feature in Photoshop that blends multiple images together so that everything is razor sharp. I also used an aperture of f8 which is a sharper setting on my lens than f32. I took seven shots and varied the focal points from front to back. Then I opened all my images in Photoshop CS4 and went to File> Scripts> Load Files in Stack… In the next window choose to Add open files. Check the Attemp to Auto Align source images. This will put all the images into one document with multiple layers. Notice the masking that goes on automatically and you’ll understand why Photoshop costs $600. Next you want to select all the layers. Then go to Edit> Auto-Blend Layers. Choose to Stack-Images and check the Seamless Tones and Colors box. Then the program will start to blend everything together and you will be amazed. I had a few blemishes in my picture that I easily fixed with the Clone Stamp tool. If you have large Raw files and a slow computer like me this could take a very long time. I down-res’d my images in Camera Raw first and it took about two minutes to run. This can be a lot of work to accomplish but the results are fantastic. The second watch is so much sharper than the first and I didn’t have to buy a new lens. Try it you’ll like it.