To some extent all of us are creatures of habit, doing things the same way that we’ve always done them. How we use our camera gear is not immune from our habitual behaviour. My favourite lens to use with extension tubes is the 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 and I often only bring this lens with me when planning some close-up photography. During recent visits to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario to photograph frogs, I was reminded that considering the minimum focusing distances of our lenses is important when using extension tubes.
In this final installment to this series, I have chosen to discuss one of my favorite topics in photography: close-ups. My goals with this article are to provide a basic understanding of light and exposure when photographing a subject at close range, the rationale for exposure loss during magnification, and guidance on how to correct for this exposure loss. To illustrate these principles, I will share my own empiric observations, review the pertinent calculations that govern magnification and exposure loss compensation, and discuss select photographs that I have made at close range. Hopefully, this article will help beginning and advanced photographers grasp the physics of light at close range and take command and control of magnification and exposure compensation. Although I crafted this article from the framework of a photographer using traditional close-up and macro equipment (i.e., bellows, extension tubes), the use of an external light meter (i.e., non-TTL metering), and continuous lighting (e.g., natural light, lamps), the tenets and technical considerations for close-up exposure compensation are still relevant to those photographers who prefer automation, TTL metering, and electronic flash. Finally, I will wrap up the discussion by sharing some thoughts on the use of film as a tool for learning the visualization process.