Although the world is full of gorgeous landscapes and epic backdrops, you can find small scale yet equal beauty in your own back yard. Here are some tips for capturing the smaller things in life using your digital camera.

 

1. Lighting
To capture detail in subjects like roses and sunflowers, avoid taking photos in direct sunlight. The overhead illumination will be too harsh and your images will have dark shadows. Early morning and sunset provide the most beautiful lighting.

If your compact digital camera has manual adjustments, use a small aperture when taking close-up shots. Aperture refers to the hole inside a lens that regulates how much light passes through. It is expressed in numbers, for example f/8.0. These numbers are called f-stops. F-stops can be confusing because the smaller the number, the larger the aperture. Simply put, a small f-stop represents a large aperture. See the diagram below.

       

2. Focus
Use a fast shutter speed when shooting things like a moving butterfly so you can avoid blurring. To keep your camera steady, use a tri-pod. If you have a digital camera with a zoom lens, you can use it, but make sure your camera has an optical image stabilizer. The longer the zoom lens, the more judder or camera shake you will get.

One way to ensure that you get a sharp image is to set your camera to continuous shooting mode. That way you can take multiple shots. With more photos, you increase the probability of capturing a great one.

3. Close-up Filters
Many compact camera manufacturers make close-up filters that you can buy separately to attach to the end of your camera lens. These filters magnify your subject and give you different strength options. You can purchase them individually or in sets. The lenses are inexpensive and easy to attach. Keep in mind the thicker lenses will block some light from passing through your lens, affecting your photo s final outcome.

4. Extension Tubes
Extension tubes consist of a ring that is attached between the body of the camera and the lens. Extension tubes give your lens the ability to focus more closely on your subject. They are suited well for capturing the fine details of subjects like insects. Extension tubes don t have glass, so there is no interference with light.

5. Macro Mode
Many digital cameras have built-in macro modes for taking close-up shots. Macro modes vary from camera to camera, so the best thing to do is experiment with your camera. It is easy to find the macro mode setting in your camera s menu. It is usually designated by a flower icon. With most digital cameras, it takes longer for the lens to adjust and focus in this mode so you will have to be patient.

When you use macro mode, remember to turn off your automatic flash so that it does not go off. Since you are very close to your subject it will just wash out whatever you are trying to shoot.

There are endless possibilities and a whole new miniature world to discover just one step away from your back porch. You can photograph raindrops resting on a flower petal or the intricate design of a spider s web. By practicing these tips you will be off to a good start.

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