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Macro Photography: Study the Field before you Shoot
Understanding Close Up Photography: Creative Close Encounters with Or Without a Macro Lens
So now your macro lens has been ordered and you’re waiting for it to arrive!
It is estimated that here are around a million already identified insects. There are still more yet to be discovered. Perhaps you will be the next person to do this. Scientists recently discovered a new Lacewing when an image was shown on Flickr. With so much interest in macro photography. the likelihood of this happening again is pretty good.
Before you start out, I recommend that you always wear appropriate footwear. It should be comfortable, lightweight and preferably waterproof. I don’t recommend sandals. It is essential that you learn to tread quietly so as not to disturb your intended subjects. Always cover your arms and legs with lightweight cotton fabric. It will protect you from sunburn and insect bites. If you intend to visit fields where animals graze, it is likely you will come across a horse or deer fly occasionally, perhaps even the odd tick! Checking your clothing and body when you get home is always a good idea. Ticks can cause Lyme’s disease. Horse and deerfly can give a really painful nasty bite. Nevertheless, all three insects make for a very interesting photo opportunity if you do come across one.
Try not to cast your shadow over the insects. They will not notice you so much when you approach them if you do this.
Keep an eye out for horses especially if you are sharing a field where they are grazing. I was once rudely disturbed by a horse who snatched my camera bag when I was not looking. It took it in his mouth and started shaking it about rather forcefully! I suspect he thought I had brought him some food and I was lucky to get my gear back intact!
Mottled Umber Moth Caterpillar
White butterfly against pink background
A patch of Nettles
Surprisingly a good place to start out is in a patch of Nettles. You may not need to go far; you may have some in your own back garden! These unfriendly plants are home to around forty different species of insects and even some of our favorite Butterflies and Moths. Aphids overwinter in the nettles and when the new fresh spring growth arrives, hundreds of Ladybirds will begin feeding on them. This will give you the perfect opportunity to witness an Aphid standing up to a Ladybird! You will learn to predict when a Ladybird is about to take flight. With practice, you will soon be taking ‘action’ shots of ladybirds in flight. I try never to take images which show a ladybird resting as I prefer to take them on the move. The challenge is to get a really sharp image. I sometimes use a Monopod though I mostly hand hold my camera as it gives me greater flexibility.
If you look carefully you will see the larvae of the Peacock and small Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the nettles. They will be found eating in large groups hidden under little silky tents, usually in the top of the nettle stems.
Insects, Fascinating or Creepy?
Do Insects fascinate you or do they give your the creeps
Choose the correct time of day
Choose the correct time of day, it is always easier to take photos of insects in the early morning or later on in the early evening. Insects are cold-blooded and are much slower at these times. You waste a lot of time if you try to take pictures of butterflies in the bright sunlight. They seldom appear to rest and if you do find one sitting for just a split second, it will suddenly be disturbed by a passing butterfly which will fleetingly pounce on it and then off they will together go. It is simply amazing how they have the ability to move at such a pace and still find each other!.
Bees sometimes are so focused on gathering pollen that they will not even notice you approach them. If you look down on them, they will appear ‘drunk’ on nectar. I prefer images of bees to be taken whilst they are flying.
You will be rewarded with some lovely images if you learn the habitat of your subjects. Learn patience and work quietly without disturbing your subjects. Tread carefully and don’t destroy anything in your quest to get your image. Respect the right of the insects to be there and will be rewarded over and over again.
Study the habitat first, your success rate depends on it.
Macro Photography Tips for Beginners
© 2012 Sally Gulbrandsen