A website visitor asked for recommendations on books for closeup or macro photography. Brent had just picked up the Nature’s Best Magazine, a phenomenal photography magazine, and we were thrilled with the amazing nature images, especially the closeup work. So this was a chance to update our closeup photography book recommendations list.
Closeup photography is a passion of Brent’s and mine, though we don’t get to do it as much as we used to. All this traveling, you know. Anyway, I thought I’d share my answer with you all since it is such a fascinating aspect of photography which opens up a whole new world to explore – right under your feet.
Thanks for the questions and I do have some recommendations which, if you had looked a little closer (ha!) you would have found some of these on our site. We recommend a wide variety of books. The specific books would be John Shaw’s Closeups in Nature, Joe McDonald’s New Complete Guide to Wildlife Photography, and for closeup inspiration, Freeman Patterson’s The Garden.
The first two books will give you good technical information. Shaw’s book is the best overall introduction to closeup photography, covering the basics. McDonald’s book is fabulous and looks at closeup photography with wildlife, a very challenging and nearly impossible aspect of nature photography that he makes look simple and easy. It covers other aspects of wildlife photography but his closeup work is truly amazing.
For inspiration, any of Freeman’s books will do the job, but this new one, The Garden, is breathtaking. He has had health problems lately but it hasn’t stopped him from working closer to home with his creative and innovative style and the beauty he has captured in this book is phenomenal. He doesn’t cover the technical, but who cares when you can only dream of duplicating his stuff.
Those will get you really started. If you need really good basic introduction to nature photography and how your camera works, our basic nature photography workbook will help, and we highly recommend John Shaw’s book, The Nature Photography Field Guide.
There are some really OLD books out there from Photo Life or Life Magazine or Kodak (actually all of them, I think) on photographing through microscopes and doing medical photography. These are horrible but they give you the basics of how to do much of it yourself and understand the technology. Lennart Nilsson’s incredible photographs of inside the womb and the development of the fetus still stands as some of the most amazing photography in the world and in history, as far as I’m concerned. Not just for the clarity of the images and the brilliance of the work, but the techniques behind the process. There are dozens of articles about him on the net and he has a couple of books. I’d look there, too.
I hope this helps. We haven’t been traveling with our bellows but have had the tilt/shift. They are similar but very different in what they can do and when it comes to closeups, we love the bellows for getting extreme. Try a reversing ring on your 55mm and slap it on the front and see a WHOLE new world in a grain of salt. The hardest part of all of this is geting the light to the subject in order to photograph it at that magnification. If you aren’t outdoors with natural light to use, it complicates things.
Let me know what you decide and where you are going to take this. And thanks again for asking.
If you have a question about photography, you can ask here (below in comments) . We love answering questions about nature photography. We are usually asked about life on the road and Israel, but we LOVE talking about photography.