There's so much life all around us, it's a shame to miss out on any of it. And a good portion of that life can't be seen except close up - on your hands and knees, crawling through dense shrubs, swatting the mosquitos with one hand and snapping the shutter with the other.

Capturing a bee on the head of flower can be a difficult job. Or it can be a snap. The difference might well depend upon what equipment you're using and how well you know how to use it.

While most single-lens reflex lenses focus down to within 14 inches or so the subject, for serious closeup work, you'll need something with more blow-up power. But that needn't be expensive.

You can buy a set of screw-on closeup lenses that fit on your camera's normal lens like a filter. They normally come in plus 1, plus 2 and plus 3 powers. But, by stacking, you can increase magnification to plus 5. Remember when stacking closeup lenses to place the larger-numbered lens nearer the camera body.

The cost of a set of closeup lenses isn't much more than the cost of processing a 36-exposure roll of Kodacolor II. The drawback to them, of course, is that they're only relatively sharp. After all, you can't expect Carl Zeiss for under $20.

The best way for serious closeup photographers to go is with a macro lens. Nearly every camera maunfacturer has a macro in its stable of lenses - and so do such lens manufacturers as Soligo, Sigma, Vivitar and so forth.Prices generally range from a little more than $100 to over $500, but the increased versatility and sharpness is what you're paying for.

In fact, many pros who buy a new camera will buy the body and a macro lens (nearly all macros today focus from infinity to half lifesize or larger), instead of the normal lens usually sold with the body. For a few additional dollars, they'll then have a lens that will do everything a normal lens will do, plus quite a bit it won't do - like fill the frame with a postage stamp.

Whatever lens you choose for your closeup photography, focus carefully. At close range, depth-of-field (that area of acceptable sharpness) is very limited. To increase depth-of-field, use an aperture of f/8 or smaller (f/22 or f/32 is more practical). Be sure to brace the camera well or use a tripod when shooting with slow shutter speeds. The slightest camera movement at closeup distance will blur the shot.

Also, backgrounds are very important in closeup photography. Avoid clutter, and find a camera angle that produces good contrast between subject and background - a white daisy against dark, shaded woods or a dark bullfrog against light blue water.

If the subject and background are about the same contrast no matter what the camera angle, take a piece of appropriately colored cardboard and set it up for your background. A sheet of black (or white) nonreflective poster board may make the difference between an average and a dynamite shot. Be sure to meter off the subject before placing the background board in place, or the white or black background may influence the meter. You could end up with a whole roll of over-or underexposed film.