APOY 2012 Round Three – The World Up Close: Macro

Please visit the APOY12 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY entry email address, and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

**Entries must be received by 5pm on 27 April 2012**

Round 3 of this year’s Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Samsung and Jessops, is The World Up Close (macro photography, any subject). For this round we want you to get up close and personal with your subjects, which can be either man-made or from nature. Flower heads, water droplets, insects and matchstick-sized toy models are the obvious choices, but there are many more things you can photograph up close. Objects such as buttons and coins could be interesting if the composition and lighting are right, or perhaps the hands of a clock or the nib of a pen on paper.

You could try searching for ‘found’ subjects or arrange the scenes yourself. Images likely to catch the judges’ eye are those that are creative, skilfully composed and technically excellent. As always, we have thousands of pounds worth of fantastic camera equipment up for grabs, as well as the chance to be crowned Amateur Photographer of the Year 2012. The closing date for round 3 is 27 April 2012. The top two winners will each receive a fantastic Samsung camera, while the third-prize winner will receive a £250 Jessops voucher. The top 30 highest scoring photographs will be published in our 26 May issue, while the scores from the top 50 images will be posted on our website.

Please visit the APOY12 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY entry email address, and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

If you wish to enter by post please remember to include your entry form.


Information explaining how to enter can be found on the APOY12 home page. Please use your full name as the file name and paste the disclaimer into the body of your email if you are sending your entry to us electronically. We also need to know where and how you took the image, plus the camera and lens you used. Remember to include a telephone number and your postal address so we can contact you if you win. We look forward to seeing your photographs.

Macro or close-up photography is one of those subjects that most photography enthusiasts dabble in at some point. Perhaps this is because there is something immensely thrilling about seeing a subject that is difficult to view with the naked eye larger than life through the lens of a camera. Although it’s easy to believe you need to own a macro lens to create impressive macro images, this isn’t strictly the case.

While a dedicated macro lens, such as a 105mm or a 60mm optic, will give greater magnification, it is possible to capture some striking close-up images using other means. You will need to check how close your lens will focus as every lens has a minimum focusing distance. The longer the focal length, the greater the telescopic effect.

If the lens is detachable you could use extension tubes to increase the distance between the lens and film plane or sensor, and if you own a zoom lens check to see if it has a macro setting. Think carefully about what subjects will look effective when ‘blown up’, as some will work better than others. Since the tiniest of details will be magnified, you’ll need to make sure your subject is free from any unwanted distractions such as dust, blots or hairs as much as possible, or be prepared to retouch the image afterwards in software.

1st prize
The first-prize winner will receive a Samsung NX200 with 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, a Samsung 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, a Samsung ED-SEF42A flash and a 16MB SDHC Plus memory card, worth a total of £1,498.96. The NX200 is a compact system camera with a 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C, CMOS sensor.

It has high-speed capture (7fps) and ultra-fast autofocus (100ms), while the ISO range of 100-12,800 lets you take high-speed photos even in low light. Samsung’s 60mm is actually a macro lens, but with the 1.5x conversion factor of the APS-C sensor, it takes on that magic 90mm focal length, which is perfect for close-up photography.

2nd prize

The second-prize winner will receive a Samsung WB850F compact camera and a 16MB SDHC Plus memory card worth a total of £288.98.

The WB850F travel compact has a 16-million-pixel, BSI (Back Side Illuminated) CMOS sensor to help reduce image noise and distortion, even in low-light conditions and 21x optical zoom lens (23-483mm equivalent).

The Samsung WB850F also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, so users can email photos or share them on social network sites quickly and easily.

3rd prize

The third-prize winner will receive a £250 Jessops Gift Card. Jessops Gift Cards are only redeemable in store and not online. Overseas winners will be contacted by phone about how to claim their prize.

Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get started

Why not try…

Getting Started

First, you need a camera with a close-focusing capability. A macro lens will allow you to focus down to 1:1 scale, but if you don’t have one why not try using screw-on close-up lenses or even a compact camera? Many compacts have macro modes and good close-focusing distances, sometimes to 1cm. If you are using flash, it’s a good idea to test its intensity and fine-tune the exposure. You will certainly need a tripod if you are photographing moving insects or flowers that may be blowing in a breeze, and perhaps a cable release.

Think about whether you are going to take your shot in a self-constructed studio environment at home or outside. If you are using natural light, you may find you need to wait until it is bright enough. One of the great advantages of macro photography is that you can take your time over the image. Unlike many other types of photography, there is no need for a mad dash to capture the shot. Don’t rush to take and submit the first image that you shoot.

Photo by Paul Nuttall

Composing your Shot

Spend a reasonable amount of time before you actually start shooting to brainstorm potential subject matter. Try to think of subjects you could capture up close that haven’t been photographed too many times before. Do you want to include just one subject/object or use a number of them?

Key compositional considerations are the choice of background, the camera angle, the position of subjects and how you frame the shot. All these things will have an impact on the final look of the image. You could even try thinking in terms of an abstract shot, positioning objects to create an interesting arrangement or homing in on texture or colour, for example.


You may be better off using manual focusing rather than AF to minimise hunting. Depth of field becomes narrower the closer the subject is to the camera, so focusing becomes critical. Choose your focusing point carefully, as a slight shift in the focus point will make a considerable difference to your image. Ideally, if your subject is stationary and there is enough light, use a small aperture and a slow shutter speed to get your image sharp. Otherwise, you could try using off-camera flash that will also allow you to freeze movement if your subject is in action.

Please visit the APOY12 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY entry email address, and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

If you wish to enter by post please remember to include your entry form.

**Entries must be received by 5pm on 27 April 2012**

 In association with Samsung and Jessops