Choose a Ratio for Macro or Close-Up Photography

In most cases, the difference between macro and close-up photography doesn’t matter. When you have the ability to get extremely close to your subjects, you can reveal smaller details, and photograph smaller subjects, but how close you get to a subject is relative to its size and your message. Closer isn’t always better.

One of your main jobs as a photographer is to make compositional decisions based on how you want to represent the entire scene. Getting in as tight as possible maximizes the amount of detail but cuts down on much of the surrounding details in a scene.

Instead of burdening yourself with ratios and technicalities, pay attention to your scene and get just close enough to represent it in the best way you see fit.

The figure was photographed based on creating the best composition possible, which required a magnification ratio somewhere between 1:2 and 1:3. Truthfully, you needn't even consider the magnification level when composing the shot. If the composition had been chosen based solely on creating a 1:1 ratio, many of the interesting elements would have been cropped out.

Composition is more important than your level of magnification.
Composition is more important than your level of magnification.

100mm, 1/250, f/8, 200

In this case, a 1:1 ratio was not ideal for depicting the subject.
In this case, a 1:1 ratio was not ideal for depicting the subject.

100mm, 1/250, f/8, 320

A 1:1 ratio might be ideal for one subject, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work for the next subject. Photography is a technical process, but creating beautiful and compelling images is an organic process.

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