Taking Close-Up Portraits Using Your Digital SLR
5 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Photographing People Using Your Digital SLR
When you photograph a person who has a beautiful face, the photo shoot’s not over until you get an extreme close-up with your digital SLR. Because you zoom in tight on your subject’s face (the frame doesn’t even include the whole head), do a close-up portrait only if your subject has flawless skin, although you can remove some imperfections during editing.
Settings your digital SLR camera for up close portraits
Good settings take the fear out of being close. Use Aperture Priority mode and an ISO setting of 100. A really small aperture — f/7.1 — prevents your subject’s hair from being out of focus and works great if both eyes aren’t the same distance from the camera. If you want a soft, dreamy look, use an aperture of f/2.8.
Choosing a single auto-focus point lets you precisely focus on your subject’s eyes. A focal length between 100mm and 150mm lets you get a nice close-up without distorting your subject’s features. Image stabilization ensures a blur-free image, so use it if your camera or lens has this feature. If you don’t have image stabilization, consider using a tripod for this type of photo unless you have a very steady hand.
Taking close-up pictures
You want soft light for an extreme close-up, so do this type of photography on an overcast day or near diffuse window light. If you don’t have overcast weather, take the photographs in a shaded area. Alternatively, you can use light from a diffused on-camera flash.
Get the eyes in focus. If they’re in focus, the whole portrait looks good; if they’re not, viewers see the whole image as fuzzy. To fix out-of-focus eyes, switch to a smaller aperture (larger f/stop number) and try again.
You can use jewelry as a compositional element to draw your viewer into the picture:
Ask your subject to turn away from the camera and then look toward it. Focus on the eye nearest the camera and compose the picture. Ask your subject to tilt her head down and smile.