Compose a Pleasing Close-Up Image - dummies

By Thomas Clark

When composing an image in macro and close-up photography, you need to determine just how much of a scene should be cropped out of your frame and whether your subject is better suited to a horizontal or vertical format.

Your frame should include all that you want to record from a specific scene and should exclude all that’s irrelevant to your message. This is the only way to ensure viewers see exactly what you want them to see when they look at your macro and close-up images.

In macro and close-up photography, the more magnification you have the less of a scene you see in the frame. Using a macro 1:1 magnification ratio may be ideal for showing a great deal of detail in certain subjects, but this level of magnification doesn’t work in scenes that require you to show more of the surrounding environment.

You have to ask yourself what’s important to your message in a scene and then determine just how close you’ll stick your lens to the action.

Sometimes you get in extra tight to eliminate distracting elements from your frame, and sometimes you want to pull back a bit to tell viewers more about the subject’s surrounding environment. If you choose a wider composition for a certain scene and there are some distracting elements in your frame as a result, then try downplaying their appearance with a shallow depth of field.

Notice the images of the bud. A wider composition gives a sense of environment, but the branches and leaves in the background take away from the subject in the first image; a shallower depth of field in the second image creates a more pleasing image.


50mm, 1/80, f/16, 500    50mm, 1/80, f/16, 500

Always pay attention to the elements that exist in your scenes and keep in mind the elements of design. Don’t go for the maximum level of magnification every time you shoot. Instead, think like an artist and create beautiful and interesting compositions that tell a story.