In Up Close, the latest Craft & Vision photography ebook, Andrew S. Gibson guides photographers who are new to the macro and close-up photography world through the fundamentals of this area of photo making. As someone who is used to photographing events, portraits, and abstract work, the field of macro is one where I’ve had curiosity, but not much further. When I learned of this book, I was curious if it would provide me with a good primer on macro photography and the answer is yes. Here’s what I thought (along with some discount codes)…
Like the other Craft & Vision ebooks, this is formatted in double-page spreads. There are 90 spreads, offering a lot of great material (and accompanying photos) for the student of macro photography. As one might expect, the book begins with a definition of macro and close up photography, providing some good diagrams to help explain how this type of photography is captured on both full frame and crop-sensor cameras.
Macro Equipment, Technique, and Lighting
The first major section of the book (nearly half of it!) deals with equipment. This was one of my personal areas of confusion… what’s a macro lens vs. a close-up lens vs. an extension tube? Why would I want each? When is one better than the other? What about reversing a standard lens and using it “backwards” for macro? All of these bits of gear are covered, with practical applications for each and advice on which options won’t lead to desired results. While Gibson notes what he considers ideal gear, he also offers up a lot of options for those just beginning the close-up adventure, including options which are going to be easy on the pocketbook.
After talking gear, the second major portion of the book discusses technique including focus, sharpness, and depth of field. Given the tight tolerances when working at extremely close distances, focus and depth of field play an especially important role in this style of photography. Gibson offers tips on how to best stabilize the camera and make fine adjustments in order to achieve various results. The final portion of the book is a look at lighting… while Gibson makes his preference for natural light known, he also explains and discusses a couple options for adding additional light to a close-up photo. One option is a ring or macro flash and the other is the use of a “regular” speedlight along with a small softbox1.
There are a couple case studies of successful macro photographers and they do a good job of reinforcing Gibson’s material. Overall I was impressed; the entire book covered a good range of material for the beginning close-up or macro photographer. For someone in a position like me and curious about this area of photography, I can highly recommend Up Close – Gibson did a great job at continuing the Craft & Vision tradition of excellent material.