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Macro Photography – Up Close and Personal

Presented by Billie A. Nicholson, M Photog., Cr.
Robert A. Nicholson, M Photog., Cr., MD F. Ph.


Definition: Macro- Photographing objects at nearly life size; ie., 1:1 or larger than life size.  



Needs – 

  1. SLR camera with thru the lens viewing and interchangeable lenses, capable of working in manual or aperture priority modes, thru the lens metered flash
  2. Electronic cable release, focusing rail, close focus lens
  3. Tripod to keep camera steady
  4. Light control – available light, diffusers, reflectors, off camera flash
  5. Cellphone with bluetooth shutter release, tripod adapter, auxiliary lenses
  6. Custom cellphone applications
  7. PC/Mac processing platform with Adobe Photoshop CC 2018
  8. Helicon Focus Software

Ways to go MACRO

  1. Enlarge prints and trim back to required size
  2. Use a close up magnifying lens (proxars, magnifying glass, loupe)
  3. Reverse lenses
  4. Add extension tubes.  
  5. Bellows
  6. Macro lens
  7. Use cell phone and accessories
Set of extension tubes





Cellphone with macro lens, tripod adapter and bluetooth remote
Macro lens







Basic Keys to a successful photograph

  1. Composition – remember the rule of thirds
  2. Lighting – directional, diffuse, reflected
    1. Available light – tungsten, fluorescent, daylight
    2. Light modifiers – reflectors, Aluminum  foil, white cards, black cards, light tent, umbrella
    3. Flash – off camera, back light, main light, fill light
  3. Exposure – spot meter, matrix metering, 18 % gray, bracket, shutter speed, subject movement
  4. Depth of Field – small in focus zone
    1. Small Apertures
    2. Subject parallel to film plane – improves focus, avoids key-stoning
    3. Simplify composition, simple backgrounds
    4. 50/50 focus distance around subject




Tips for Close Up Photography

Photographing everyday items extremely close will reveal a world of color, form, texture and shape often overlooked. “Macro” in photographic terms used to mean life-sized images. Most of us know it as that special focus setting found on some zoom lenses. Using this setting puts the lens well forward of the camera body and this allows very close focus. Close focus may not necessarily create life size images, but they will be awesome. Here are some things to remember when photographing up close.

  1. To take close ups you need equipment designed to increase the distance between the lens and the sensor. 
    1. Macro lenses or zoom lenses with a macro feature
    2. Extension tubes fit between the lens and the camera body. They add the needed space for image focus on sensor
    3. Close up filters can be added to the front of the lens to “magnify” the image and can be added together to increase magnification
    4. Use your zoom lens – set up at a distance that will allow you to zoom in close and keep the subject in focus
  2. The main technical problems are the difficulty focusing a sharp image and the very shallow depth of field.
    1. Use a tripod and wear knee pads
    2. Select the A or Av setting on your camera and you choose the aperture; the larger the number, like f11 or f16, the greater depth of focus or use the M (manual) setting and control both the aperture and shutter speed. Note the exposure meter showing in your viewfinder (a bar that has markings from -2 thru 0 to + 2) – move either the aperture or shutter speed control to move this setting to 0. 
    3. To avoid movement of the subject (if it is alive or outside in the wind), shoot at a fast shutter speed; you may also want to secure subject with a clamp
    4. Use your in-camera meter – pick a spot that simulates 18% gray or use an 18% gray card. Record the meter setting and then switch to manual
    5. Remember to add exposure to compensate for extension rings; whenever the subject is closer than about five times the focal length of the lens. Work out the magnification (image height divided by subject height, add one and square the result). This is the factor you must multiply exposure time by. So for an image the same size as the subject give four times the normal exposure.  Extension tubes are usually marked with the exposure correction required.
    6. Focus on some part of your image 1/3rd of the way into the scene to get the maximum field of focus.
    7. Bracket your exposure (less than 1-stop intervals is best) for best results, setting the camera to auto exposure bracketing.
    8. Use a “Multi-Focus” program like Helicon Focus (
  3. Backgrounds can be distracting. Make them as plain as possible
    1. Use a fabric sweep to eliminate the breaking line of a horizon
    2. Use a contrasting color
    3. Common fabrics are: black velveteen, white polyester, blue or bright green for video or to “drop out” the background easily; white shower curtains work well, too.
    4. Make sure the surface is super clean of lint or other flecks. They’ll look like logs later.
    5. Make a light tent to soften light and reduce shadows
  4. Lighting is critical in close up photos. 
      1. Early morning and late in the day will provide naturally oblique light to cross over your subject and help create a third dimension in the image. Avoid direct sun or partial sun and shade mix.
      2. Arrange studio lights to create dimension (add appropriate shadows)
      1. Use reflectors to fill in shadow areas
        1. White fabric or white cards (scrap foam-core works great – cut one side to create hinge)
        2. Mirrors
        3. Aluminum foil
        4. Photo reflectors
    1. For flat or round objects, the best camera position is directly above the object; this eliminates shape distortion – use a bubble level to confirm. Light should be very oblique to exaggerate the pattern or design.
    2. For other shaped objects, the camera should be parallel to the subject to avoid distortions
    3. A ring flash gives complete frontal lighting for complex subjects where side lighting would only add confusion with complicated shadows.
    4. Some subjects require diffused light (add a translucent material between subject and light source – another good use for that white shower curtain – put it in a sunny window for beautiful natural light).
    5. The best times to photograph flowers
      1. On cloudy overcast days
      2. Early morning or late afternoon on sunny days – nice light & low wind
      3. Just after a rain – or carry a small spray bottle for water; just one or two spritzes
    6. If you’re working out doors, don’t shoot down on flowers, get lower; knee pads are a great addition to your camera bag
    7. Don’t fight the wind
      1. Use a plant clamp
      2. Switch to Shutter Priority (S or Sv) setting and increase the shutter speed higher to stop movement
      3. Make the wind your subject – slow shouter speed to capture movement
    8. Use the rules of composition 
      1. What is your subject?
      2. Select groups of three
      3. Find repeating images at an angle 
      4. Look for leading lines to bring the viewer’s eye into the image
    9. If using this technique for home inventory or products to sell, clean items so they are free of fingerprints. Use a soft cloth to buff out.

To Download these tips:Tips for Close Up Photography_bdp




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Rotary Military Appreciation Day

Rotary Military Appreciation Day

November 3, 2014 – Pensacola Combined Rotary Clubs paid tribute to  local military personnel in their annual military appreciation luncheon. Held at  New World Landing in Pensacola, nearly 300 people attended this event.  Members from 13 local Rotary clubs, active duty and retired military as well as community leaders made up the guest list.

Rear Admiral Mike White, commander, Navy Education and Training Command gave the keynote address. He talked about the contributions that active duty military have made in their spare time to volunteer projects in the community. The combined efforts of 1,600 military  volunteer have provided over 26,000 hours of community service.

Three Pearl Harbor Survivors, William Braddock Sgt. Maj. USMC (Ret.), Francis Emond CWO4, USN (Ret.), and Jacob Gallawa, RMCS, USN (Ret.) enjoyed lunch and conversation with active duty military.

 Military Appreciation Day

Pearl Harbor Survivors and Rotary Friends

Military Appreciation Day

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Heroes Among Us

Heroes Among Us
L to R: Pearl Harbor Survivors Frank Emond, (CWO4, USN RET.) William Braddock, (Stg. Maj., USMC RET.) Jay Carraway, (ETC, USN RET.) Pearl Harbor Honor Flight co-organizer William Phillips, (Lt. Col. USAF RET.) and Pearl Harbor Survivor, Cass Phillips (LCDR USN RET.)

Heroes Among Us not fazed by rain

Members of the Pensacola Chapter 138, Pearl Harbor Survivors Association were honored at “Heroes Among Us” ceremonies, August 29, 2014. Scheduled to take place at the Veterans Memorial Park, the event was relocated to A&J Mugs store on Palafox Street because of rain.

Honorees included Frank Emond, (CWO4, USN Ret.), William Braddock, (Stg. Maj., USMC RET.) Jay Carraway, (ETC, USN RET.) and Cass Phillips (LCDR USN RET.)

Heroes among usPearl Harbor Honor Flight co-organizers Holly Shelton and William Phillips, (Lt. Col. USAF RET.) introduced our National Treasures. Each survivor recounted his unique experiences during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. All nonagenarians, their memories were sharp and the store packed crowd hung on every word.

Heroes among us
Pearl Harbor Survivor, William Braddock, USMC Ret.






Heroes among us






Heroes among us
Pearl Harbor Survivor and Pensacola Chapter 138 President Emeritus, Jay Carraway.





Heroes among us






Pearl Harbor Survivor, Jim Landis (SCPO, USN RET.) was unable to attend due to health issues. His story of December 7, 1941, as written in the book “Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye,” was shared by author Billie Nicholson.

Heroes among us

Heroes Among Us Special Guest

Heroes among us
Pearl Harbor child survivor, Mrs. Earline Williams

In addition to the survivors, Mrs. Earline Williams, who was a 12 year old, living with her family on Ford Island on December 7, 1941 shared her experiences that day. Their home was across from the berth of the USS Oklahoma, which was torpedoed and rolled over, trapping many sailors inside. Some of her clothing was used to cover the dead and wounded.

Heroes among us
Pearl Harbor Survivor, Cass Phillips

“What take home lesson would you like us to have from your experience,” someone in the crowd asked. “Pay attention to what is going on in the world around you and always be prepared,” responded survivor Cass Phillips.

Heroes among usWhen asked to what they owed their resilience and long life, Frank Emond replied, “Keep you mind active, and your body, too. I paint and volunteer one day a week at the Veterans Medical Center.”

Read the Pensacola News Journal article here. If you can’t find this in PNJ’s archives, see it here.


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Three Generations Reading Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye

Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye

Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye

Multigenerational families shared the stories of the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, HI, with a Survivor at the book signing hosted by Hawsey’s Book Index. It is always heartwarming for our Pearl Harbor Survivors to have the opportunity to meet not only their peers from the World War II era but also young people who have taken an interest in  the history of that war.  The lessons they learn from these past events will make a difference in our future world.Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye

The story of a community coming together to honor these National Treasurers is history in the making. One of our readers said, “Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye is a good example for other communities to follow. We have taken the time to say ‘Thank you for your sacrifices and your service.’ We are proud of our World War II heroes.”

Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last GoodbyeDinah Tronu, co-owner of Hawsey’s Book Index, is a great supporter of our military community.  Dinah said, “The evening was filled with reflection for all of us; the day of the signing was truly a day of thanksgiving.” She is especially proud of her customers who have been coming to Hawsey’s since they were young and now are bringing their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye





Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye publisher, Nelson Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last GoodbyeOttenhausen, Patriot Media, Inc. and Sissy Nessamar
from Cumulus Radio were also present. “We are thankful for all they are doing to promote and support this project,” said author, Billie Nicholson.Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye





Pearl Harbor Survivor, Cass Phillips talked about the events of December 7, 1941 from his point of view as a radioman stationed at Kan’eohe, HI. The authors, Billie and Robert Nicholson, discussed the community project that helped make the return trip to Hawaii on December 7, 2011 a reality and some of their favorite moments.

Pearl Harbor Honor Flight: One Last Goodbye

For more details on the book, visit 

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