Despite being based in a herpetological lab during my Master studies at Wits, I didn’t ever really dive into the world of macro photography. I wish i had thinking back to all the incredible reptiles that I had access to back then but such is life.
One of my personal photographic goals for this year was to try and document the smaller things on safari. Why would I want to do such a thing you ask?
Well, its not always about the large charismatic species and more of ten than not, stopping to take a photograph of something small and unusual can end up producing a great image. Having great subject matter is fantastic, but there is something very rewarding about creating a great image with average content.
Take these salt crystals captured with a Canon G16 for example.
As part of my mission I’ve been carrying the Canon 180mm macro lens along with me on my travels in the hope of finding these little gems. During a short break to the Kruger Park last week i was able to spend some time around a small pond where I found all sorts of interesting subjects.
As I sat there shifting my tripod, changing the angle of the light source and moving around my subject trying out different compositions I thought to myself, photography has to be one of the most intimate genres of wildlife photography out there.
Random I know but stick with me.
Given the ability of macro lenses to achieve focus at close distances we are pretty much up close and personal with our subjects. Macro subjects are in essence usually very small when compared to the size of the usual suspects we encounter in wildlife photography, this means that we can move around them and even engage with them, coaxing them into positions where they provide just the right pose.
Interacting and engaging with what I am going to call “the usual suspects” is possible but should always be done in an ethical manner and under the guidance of a qualified professional. On a photographic safari though, this is not always possible given the group size and dynamics of the reserve. With Macro photography you’re pretty free in this regard – unless you’re capturing images of a black mamba.
Because we are free to move around and engage with our subjects we essentially have access to an unlimited number of compositions and lighting setups. Here are two images which show how changing the direction and position of the light source can be used to create different images.
This is a great way to learn about the different types of light and how the direction of light effects your image. I am sure that you will agree that this is much easier to do with a reed frog than it is to do with a leopard up a tree. Here’s another example.
Because we have the freedom to move around and our subjects are often pretty happy to stay exactly where they are, we can essentially construct that perfect composition. Here I adjusted my position to ensure that the three reeds in frame were running parallel to one another to create repetition within the scene.
So, we are up close and personal, we have the freedom to move around our subjects and interact with the subjects in a safe manner (assuming they are not venomous and dangerous), and we are able to adjust the position of the light source to achieve our creative vision.
This is pretty intimate when you think of it from a wildlife photography perspective where we are often photographing subjects which are, at best, a couple of meters away from the vehicle and more often than not between 40m and 100m away!
My question to you is this:
How can wildlife photography, of the usual suspects, become as intimate as macro-photography?
I have my own ideas on the subject which I’ll share in the new week but would love to hear your thoughts on how wildlife photography can either be intimate, or be made more intimate.
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