A whole new World of Beauty

I love close up photography.  To me it brings the natural beauty of the things around us, that we take for granted, and lets us see that it is even more beautiful than we even imagined.  I chuckled a bit as I was preparing for this subject, as I was looking for good photos to show on this week’s blog.  My definition of close-up photos is different than some people…. like NASA.  They were showing close-up photos (they say) of the tiny planet Pluto.  As you know, after 9 years of travel, a satellite has reached close enough to take pictures of this planet.  I guess in perspective of NASA, that is definitely closer than we have ever seen before, but, taking a picture of something that is thousands of miles away, is not what I had in mind.

Let’s get started with what we have.  I find it amazing with the equipment that is out there, how almost anyone can take close-up photography.  Most smart phone cameras even have great lenses, and the capabilities to take great close-up photos.  I have a smart phone camera that has a close-up capability and have taken some great photos with it.  Sometimes, in order to do it, you have to go into a menu to switch the mode to close-up photography, and other cell phones do it automatically.  So, check your camera and see just how close you can get, and what you need to do.  Remember that some of these newer cell phone cameras have great resolution for a small camera.

 Photo credit:  desk


Photo Credit:  Laurie Excell

I love on this second photo, how you can see the droplets of water on the flower.  Doesn’t that add just that much more beauty to the close-up?

The regular point and shoot cameras are becoming even better stars in the close-up world.  I have a camera that has close up features that also allows me to shoot underwater.  I can actually take pictures of my fish, still on the line, within a foot of the camera.

The bigger DSLR cameras are the serious type cameras.  With lens attachments, or even more specific, a macro lens, you have it all the way.  Some of these lenses will allow you to get even closer than what you see above.  I do need to mention that when you get closer to things, it amplifies your camera movement.  So, as you get closer and closer to subjects, you do have to use a tripod to stop the camera jiggles, more than the subject from moving.   Here are just some examples of incredible close-up photos taken with DSLR cameras with either a macro lens or lens attachments:

Photo credit:

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I am trying to be really general in describing how to do close-up photography, rather than be so specific.  I don’t want to get into showing how to use close-up filters, or extension tubes or things like that, because most photographers don’t use those things today.  But, what I am hoping to do is to show you how to look for things, maybe experiment with the everyday things around you, get your camera up close to things, and try taking the close-up picture with your cell phone camera, your new digital point and shoot camera, and see what magic is there.  The close-up world is beautiful.  And it will bring you lots of compliments on your photography.  So, just experiment with your camera, and see what you can do.

Article written by Lanny Cottrell





Entertainment & Learning for the photographer





There are camera filters for the DSLR camera user that are often forgotten.  But, if you talk to a professional photographer, I would say most of them would say there is probably about 4 essential filters you would need in your camera bag to become a serious photographer.   So, let’s go over these filters carefully, so you understand what we are talking about.
Let’s clear up one thing first.  There are two kinds of filters.  1- Round filters that just screw on the front of your lens, as you see pictured above, and then 2- the square filters that use an attachment on the front of your lens to add the filter to them.  Let’s look at the pros and cons of each first.


Round, screw-in filters are ideal if you only want to use the filter on one lens, or lenses with the same size thread, but if you have lenses with different thread sizes you’ll need different filters for each one.

With the square filter system you only need to buy one set of filters, as these can then be attached to the lens using adaptors of different sizes.

Which type you should choose also depends on the type of filters that you want to use, as some filters are only really useable screwed directly to the lens or in a square filter system.

Skylight filters, for example, are best suited to the round screw-in design, but filters such as neutral density grads are easiest to use in a square filter system.

So, now we have the two different types of filters out of the way, let’s get to the 5 essential filters that I think everyone should own.


The skylight filter should be a round filter, and should be purchased for every lens that you have.  And it’s main purpose is to protect the front element of your lens.  I have worked in a retail store before and I have seen the dropped lens brought in many of times.  The one with the skylight filter, we just screw off the damaged filter.

The cost to fix the lens:  very minimal.   And the photographer is very happy.  Now I have also seen the photographer who did not have the skylight filter on his camera, and brings in his lens, and it is broken on the front:

The only thing you can do now is to replace the whole lens.  A repair of the lens is out of the question.  Usually a repair is much more expensive than a replacement.  So, the value of a skylight filter is incredible.  JUST DO IT.  It is not worth losing a lens over it.  And there are good skylight filters out there so you don’t have to worry about the degradation of the quality of your photo.  I am providing a link to filters from Amazon, and you can see inexpensive filters, as well as real good ones as well:








The image on the right was taken with a polarizing filter, with reflected light greatly reduced  ***

Polarizing filters reduce the glare off of all surfaces except metallic surfaces.  So, water clouds, sky, trees, all have reflective properties.  And when you use the polarizing filter, you can enhance the color of those things, because you have cut the glare off those things.  And yes, the sky is now going to become a richer blue because of this.  This is also best used with a round filter.

The interesting technical feature that most people miss on this filter is that it works at it’s maximum when your lens is at a 90 degree angle to the sun.  So, if the sun is straight up, say at 12 noon, the polarizing filter should work great at all horizon shots.  But, if you have the sun down close to the horizon, take it at a 90 degree from the sun and you will get a richer color or maximum effect of the filter.

When you get the filter on your lens, it does rotate.  Rotate the filter and you can actually see it work. It is amazing and worth every penny.  Remember it does not work on metal, so, when you take pictures of your car, it will not cut the reflections off the metal, but it will off the glass.


B00007LA0TPolarizing filters are more expensive than other filters.  But, Amazon has great pricing on all the brands the carry:



A neutral density filter is nothing more than a darkened piece of glass.  It does not change the color at all, but, changes the exposure rating of the lens to darker.  They will come in ratings of ND 2, 4, 8, which is the value of the light that it cuts in exposure ratings.  So, an ND 2, cuts the light by 1/2 and so forth.

Now, the question is what would you use such a filter for?   Let’s throw out a picture and that should explain it all:

The image on the right was taken with an neutral density filter, extending the exposure to blur the water.                                                                                                                                  ***
The problem you have sometimes, is that the light is too bright to slow your shutter speed down.  So, in order to do that, you have to use a filter, like an ND filter to force you camera to think it’s darker out there than it really is.  And then you can use a slower shutter speed.
B007SXJ1VG I love how in this Amazon package, you get all three gradients at a great price.  Check out the link below:




What’s it for?                                                                                                                     ***
Balancing the exposure between a bright sky and a darker foreground, particularly in landscapes and sunrise/sunset shots.
To use our previous analogy, a graduated neutral density filter, or ND grad, is like a pair of sunglasses with dark glass at the top and clear glass at the bottom.

By placing the dark part of the glass over a sky that’s much brighter than the scenery below, and lining the transition up with the horizon, you can ensure a balanced exposure.

ND grads come in several different strengths, and with different transitions between the dark and clear areas.

For most uses a two-stop grad, also known as a 0.6 or ND4 grad, is a good option, but for shooting sunrises or sunsets with the sun in the frame, you may need an even stronger filter, such as a three-stop (0.9 or ND8) grad, to give a more balanced exposure.

An ND grad was used on the image on the right to balance the exposure                                 ***

Some of the filter gradations change softly or do it rather abruptly.  So, when you purchase them, make sure you get the effect that you want.  I usually prefer the soft gradation.  That way it seems more natural.

And of course, in this case, the square format filters seems to work the best.  The nice thing of course is that one filter will work for many lenses, you will just need to get an adapter if the lenses use different diameter filters on the end.


B00L1GPGPQHere is a complete kit for putting on your lenses.  It is at a great price  right now at Amazon.  Check out the price and availability here at this link:


So, these 4 filters may be just the beginning of your collection of filters you will begin with.  There are a huge amount of other filters you could use for your collection.  At one time I had almost 25 different filters in my camera bag that all did different things.  I would invite you to take a look at the many different filters available for you.  If you got the time, please browse through the Amazon link, just for fun and see all the different filters available for cameras.  Many manufactures are represented here and will show you the different styles, and fun things you can do.  Here is the link that will direct you to this exciting hobby of “PHOTOGRAPHING WITH FILTERS”:

<a target=”_blank” href=” filters&index=aps&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=ur2&linkId=846e934084741c3b922862947bb5c18d”>camera filters</a><img src=”//″ width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

Entertainment & Learning for the Photographer

****  Photos marked with the **** and some of the article was originally written and photos by:

JEFF MEYER and published by:  TECH RADAR