Whenever I teach macro photography I begin with a statement and two questions. The statement is that I, as a nature photographer, teach macro photography in the wild. The two immediate questions that stem from this statement are:
- What is macro photography?
- Why do I choose to shoot macro photographs in the wild?
In this article, the first of a new series here on dpreview, I'll try to answer these questions, as well as elaborate a little bit about the essence of macro photography as I see it. I'll also try to give you enough information about the upcoming articles to keep you interested!
What is macro photography?
In simplest terms, macro photography is shooting your subjects from a close distance.
|Photographer Gilad Mass shoots a |
praying mantis up close and personal.
What is a 'close distance'? Anything from half a meter down to 4 or 5cm away from your subject.
Why shoot in the wild?
As for the second question - why shoot in the wild? - there are three answers, but they are personal, rather than technical.
Firstly, in my opinion, shooting insects and tiny animals is the most fascinating, exciting, forget-all-your-troubles experience a photographer can have. These minute creatures are not only crucial for our existence here on earth, but their colors, structure, behavior and interaction with the living world are unparalleled. Shooting earrings or sushi is considered macro photography, and a lot of photographers make a good living doing it, but does that even begin to compare to shooting a hovering dragonfly or a spider in the midst of a vicious hunt? I seriously doubt it.
|A dragonfly hovering in midair - a very close and exciting encounter of the third kind!|
The second reason for why I choose to shoot in the wild is simply that it is very challenging. And like all challenges, it is extremelt rewarding. Shooting outdoors in an uncontrolled environment is signficantly harder than shooting in a controlled environment, such as a studio. In nature you can't tell the sun when and where to shine, or tell the wind to stop blowing. You cannot predict which species you encounter and whether or not they feel like staying around for a quick snap. You cannot prevent a bird from snatching a praying mantis just when you finished composing and focusing (true story). Nature is essentially uncontrollable and as such, when you adopt is as your working environment a lot can - and does - go wrong. Once you've mastered shooting in the wild, taking pictures in a studio is easy.
Don't get me wrong though - have a lot of respect for the art of studio photography. Some of my favorite shots were taken in the studio, and the results obtained in a highly controlled environment can be nothing short of amazing. Yet in a studio there is no sun, no wind, no shifting clouds or rain, and you can pretty much control everything except animal behavior. That makes shooting in the studio easier, at least in principal.
The third reason why I shoot in the wild is that I don't feel that I have a choice. Ultimately, in my opinion, nature and wildlife photographers need to shoot in the wild. Nature photography is all about showing the beauty of the world surrounding us, its intricacy and diversity. And that just cannot be done in a studio, high-tech as it may be. Personally, I believe wildlife photography should be done in nature, nowhere else.
|Photographer Shy Cohen doing what he does best: shooting in nature.|
A quick yet important statement: All the shots you will see in this article, and in the rest of the series, show animals that are:
- alive (unless being eaten by another creature)
- absolutely free and unharmed
- in their natural surroundings
These three rules are especially important to me, so I will elaborate. Alive - well, that is pretty much self-explanatory, but there are photographers out there who shoot dead subjects. I am OK with that in principle, as long as the subject is not claimed to be alive, and is not killed on purpose just for the shot. Some special kinds of photographs, such as those taken using a scanning-electron-microscope (SEM), require the subject to be gold-plated or cut in cross-sections, so of course it needs to be dead. I personally don't do that kind of photography, but I have no problem with it. There is something I do have a problem with though - animal abuse, and that’s where rule number two is important. Believe it or not, some 'kind souls' have the gruesome habit of abusing subjects, just to get a shot! Needless to say, all of the photographs you'll see here are abuse free.
As for natural surroundings - it is important to remember that you can really hurt an animal if you pull it away from its habitat. Lots of insects are dependent upon the plants you find them on, so even if you have to move them for a photograph, put them back on the same kind of plant when finished. The same goes for amphibians, and practically any other kind of animal.
By now we have a good starting point - I have given you a basic overview of what macro photography is, and how and why I do it, but a lot remains unexplained. What exactly it is that makes shooting up close so different? how do I persuade insects into cooperating for a photograph? What equipment should you use? How do you light a macro shot, and how should you manipulate it post-process? These questions, among many others, will be answered in the articles to come, so stay tuned for much more.
|Street Food 2017 by ziggyzag|
from Your City - Fast Food
|Running free by LassiM|
|Treacherous Land- "Dune " by Frank Herbert by Domenick Creaco|
from Sci-Fi or Fantasy Film Titles
|1969 Oldsmobile 442 Resto-Mod by J Warren|
from O is for...
The 10 Open category winners revealed this week will duke it out for $5,000 in prize money and the title of Open Photographer of the Year. The winner will be revealed on April 19th, alongside the Professional category winners.
The new Laowa 9mm F2.8 Zero-D is "the world’s widest rectilinear f/2.8 lens for mirrorless APS-C cameras." It boasts a 113° angle of view, fast F2.8 aperture, and a Zero-D design that promises "close to zero" distortion.
YouTuber Devin Graham recently got to do something very few of us will ever get to: he purchased and unboxed nearly a quarter million dollars worth of cinema lenses.
We're looking for a Software Development Engineer to join our Seattle-based team. Bring your creativity, passion and talent to help us build the next generation of our web and mobile experiences.
If you're on a budget and looking to get into Fujifilm's X-system, the X-A5 is likely on your radar. We've been out shooting with this updated entry-level camera.
A report from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that photography and photo-finishing services contributed $10.2 billion to the US economy in 2015.
According to unnamed sources, Google will acquire Lytro's technology and patents, with Lytro employees already having left the company.
Our review of the Sony a7 III is well underway and, as part of this, we're publishing our studio test scene. We'll be building out the review in the coming weeks as we test and shoot the camera in a series of situations.
The new ExaDrive offers a three times higher capacity than the previous largest SSD, a 30TB model by Samsung.
A pair of images show what may be the upcoming DJI Phantom 5 drone featuring an interchangeable lens camera. Update: Comparing this image to the size of previous DJI lens mounts, and noting the 3:2 aspect ratio of the sensor, we're confident the leaked image shows a 1"-type sensor
We were saddened to hear of the death last week of Chuck Westfall, a 35-year veteran of Canon USA, and a legend in the photography industry.
Nikon looks to be positioning its D850 as a serious video rig with today's announcement of its D850 Filmmaker's Kit. The kit includes the body, 20/35/85mm F1.8G lenses, an Atomos Ninja Flame external recorder, two microphones and an extra battery.
Photographers shopping around for Lightroom alternatives have likely encountered Alien Skin's Exposure X3. Here's an overview of its organization and editing controls, and how they differ from the competition.
Alien Skin has released a significant update for its Exposure X3 image editor, adding greater precision to adjustment tools and more printing capabilities, among other improvements.
The FAA has ordered helicopter pilots and operators to halt certain doors-off flights in the wake of a tragedy that killed five passengers.
Analysts TechInsights have torn down a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus to have a closer look at the device's internal components and their cost.
Oppo's new high-end phones bear an uncanny resemblance to the iPhone X, with features like face unlock to a portrait lighting mode.
Recently we visited the 2018 CP+ show in Yokohama, Japan and as usual, we booked interviews with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma.
At this year's CP+ show in Yokohama, we sat down with senior executives from several major manufacturers, including Canon. Topics of conversation included Canon's ambitions for high-end mirrorless cameras, and the importance of responding to the demands of the smartphone generation.
We were recently able to follow local frame builder Max Kullaway as he created one of his AirLandSea bikes. Here are our picks of the photos we got, as the project progressed from bare tubes all the way to rideable bicycle.
On paper, the Sony a7 III is a tempting option for photographers who've been considering a switch to full-frame mirrorless. But how does its image quality stack up? We compare it to the Mark II and a few of its other peers.
Erez Marom shares the details behind this beautiful aurora photograph, captured on Haukland Beach in the Lofoten Islands, Arctic Norway, on a moonless evening.
Google Lens uses artificial intelligence and 'computer vision' to identify and provide information about businesses, landmarks and other objects using your phone's camera. And now it's available for iPhone users, too.
The company posted a record quarterly revenue of $2.08 billion for the first quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. That represents incredibly healthy year-over-year growth of 24 percent.
In the job posting, the Times' describes this role as "one of the most important and high-profile jobs in visual journalism." If you're looking for a high profile job in photojournalism, you could do a lot worse than being Photo Director at The Gray Lady.
According to a recent report out of South Korea, Samsung is increasing production of its ISOCELL image sensors in a bid towards market leadership for image sensors. To reach this goal, Samsung will have to dethrone current market leader Sony... no small task.
In this video, large format photographer Ben Horne shows off the incredible resolving power of 8x10 slide film by pixel peeping a massive 709.6-megapixel drum scan of one of his landscape shots. And you thought 100MP medium format was big...
Photographer Wendy Teal tells the heart-breaking story of a wedding she shot at a hospital on just 24-hours notice. The mother of the bride had been given one week to live, and Wendy responded to the couple's desperate social media plea for someone to capture their special day.
This tiny little plug-and-play VR/AR camera for Android phones uses a pair of greater-than-180° FOV fisheye lenses to offer both 360° video/photo capture and 360° livestreaming at 1440p resolution.
Syrp has announced the Magic Carpet Pro: a slider that offers filmmakers an 'infinitely extendable' range thanks to built-in track levers that let you connect lengths of track without the use of tools.