My name is Shivan Parusnath. I am excited to introduce myself as a guest blogger here on the Wild Eye Blog and over the next few weeks I will write detailed articles to introduce you to the genre of macro photography. I am a PhD student in the Alexander Herp Lab at Wits University, doing conservation research on reptiles.
Over the past few years, my interactions with smaller animals have drawn me into the world of macro photography.
This is the most exciting genre of photography to me. With the right equipment, you can reveal details otherwise invisible to the naked eye, see life from the point of view from an animal so small you might normally bypass it, and open up a new world of possibilities in what you can photograph. There is also an entry point for anyone – whether you start with a Canon L-series macro lens, or an extension tube for your kit lens, anybody can experiment with macro photography.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing my personal thoughts and experiences on the following topics:
- Lens choice: almost every lens manufacturer makes at least one dedicated macro focal length lens, with most brands offering several different options. I will explore what focal lengths are out there, and which are ideal for different subject types.
- Alternatives to macro lenses: while picking up a proper macro lens is without doubt the best way to get into macro photography, there are alternative, cheaper options that won’t break the bank, but still allow you to get close-up to your subject.
- Flashes: after your lens equipment, a flash will be your next most important consideration in macro photography. In the macro range, your depth of field is always fairly thin and to get more than just the eye of your subject in focus, external lighting is almost always required. There are various types of flashes that can be used in macro photography, and I will explain which flash types are best for certain macro applications.
- Diffusers: many of the animals we often photograph in macro photography tend to be shiny. Lizards, snakes, beetles, ants, and almost everything else tends to have a gloss to it. When a bright light is applied to the animal, you get harsh catch-lights on the body and eyes, which are ugly and tend to take your viewer out of the photograph. Flash diffusers are important to avoid these obvious catch-lights and create more pleasing, natural images.
- Techniques: now that you’ve acquired and learnt about your macro equipment, there are several techniques that will allow you to make the most of your kit, and successfully work with your subjects (small subjects tend to be quick-moving and finicky). Some examples are manual focusing, focus stacking, finding and handling small animals, and the ethics of macro photography.
In the near future, we hope to offer dedicated macro photography workshops that will provide in-depth, hands-on advice on how to delve deep into the small side of life so please let us know in the comments section if you have experimented with macro photography, or are interested in doing so.
Please also feel free to ask any questions that you would like to see addressed in future posts. In the mean time, see more on Facebook, Instagram and 500px, and enjoy a few more of my favourite macro photos!
Cheers for now.