Thank you to all the photographers that shared their close up shots in nature in this photo contest made possible by our friends at Focal Press. We appreciate the collaboration of Gerlanch Nature Photography as guest judges, here is what they had to say about the contest and their selections:

We like reflections and they are more difficult to do when shooting close-ups. Therefore, we decided to select the "On High Legs" as the overall winner. Reflections always add a strong composition element to images and the bright colors of the insect nicely isolate it from the more subdued background. We liked a lot of the bird images and love photographing birds ourselves. We really don't think of birds as belonging to a the close-up category, even though tight portraits of them are close-ups. However, the close-up of the "Red Kite" was so captivating that we had to select it as a runner-up. The bird's eyes really drew us in and the depth of field and overall sharpness is excellent. Finally, we liked the "Ant" image for the good use of backlighting and being able to focus on such a small creature. It was a pleasing environment--not too busy--that set the ant off nicely. We have never made a good ant picture ourselves, and applaud those who can.

We did notice many images could have used more overall sharpness. I suspect that many close-up photographers hand hold and shoot wide open (f/2.8 to f/4.0) to get enough shutter speed to sharply record the subject--at least at the point where it is in sharp focus. You will find in our Close-up Photography in Nature book that we nearly always use a trip to allow the f/16 aperture to be used while still capturing a crisp image. Whenever possible, we use focus stacking to render truly unlimited depth of field at the sharpest aperture on your lens which is usually around f/8.

Thanks for entering the contest. We wish everyone could be a winner!
However, just enjoying photography and getting outside to discover amazing subjects makes you a winner. We constantly strive to discover new photo strategies and share them through our books, workshops, and our instructional Facebook page.

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