It's baffling that some photographers don't take more close-ups. There's something about a subject photographed at point-blank range that's really exciting.

Close-up (or macro) photography need not cost an arm and a leg -- at least not to get started. You can use just about any camera at its closest focusing distance, but you'll have the most success with a single lens reflex. Seeing right through the lens with an SLR, you know exactly when the subject is in focus and how it's going to look on film.

Since most 35mm SLRs focus down to from 10 to 18 inches with normal lens, you can get surprisingly good close-ups by setting the lens at its closest focusing distance and then moving in to the subject until it appears in sharp focus. With stationary subjects, use a tripod.

If 10 to 18 inches isn't close enough for you, buy an auxiliary lens called a macro that focuses down to as close as two inches for up to 1: 1 (lifesize) reproduction. You can fill the viewfinder with the center of a daisy.

Of course, macro lenses aren't cheap. Depending upon camera brand and the mount your camera needs, prices range from around $150 to well over $1,000 list, averaging about $250. But you can usually find some bargains, and if you're not advrse to buying used, you can probably find some real steals. Just make sure when buying any piece of used photographic equipment that you get a 10-day return privilege..

If even a used macro lens is out of your price range, purchase an extender that fits between camera body and normal lens to double (or even triple) image size. Or consider close-up lenses that screw into the front of a normal lens like a filter.

While neither extender nor close-up lens produces images as sharp as those produced by a good macro lens, they're alternatives for the tyro.

The next most important things to a close-up lens are choice of film and camera settings. On all but the brightest day, choose a fast film (from ASA 200 to 400) and use an aperture of f/8 or f/11 (or smaller) for greatest possible depth-of-field, or area of sharpness. When shooting flowers on a windy day, use a fast shutter to freeze the flower as it sways.

For greater control over your shots than you'd normally have in the field, straighten out a stiff metal hanger and attach a clip-type clothespin to the hanger end (at the bend). Using masking tape, attach the wire to the base of your camera at an appropriately short point so that the wire extends, say, six inches in front of the lens. Then mount the camera on a tripod and attach the clothespin to the stem of a moving flower on a windy day, adding a brace to the subject for stability. Or pluck the flower (or leaf, or twig) and attach it to the clothespin. You can then point the camera with attached subject toward the sky for a clear, blue background or move the subject to whatever setting -- indoors or out -- you choose. The creative possibilities are endless.