Sunday, May 4, 2008
Intro to Macro Photography: Part One
If there is one facet of nature photography that I enjoy the most it would have to be macro photography. I'm often asked how do I get so close to my subject matter; particularly when they happen to be of the slithering kind. Folks tend to think that it is often a result of expensive equipment and this just isn't the case. Although it is true that any investment in photographic equipment can be pricey, good field-craft, including a knowledge of your subject matter, will greatly increase One's ability to venture into the "miniature kingdom" that sounds surrounds us wherever we may be. As a result, I have decided to post, in several installments, a very basic introduction to macro photography in hopes that others may have the courage to venture into this very exciting –though often overlooked– photographic pursuit: macro photography.
Part One: What is Macro Photography?
As humans, we tend to believe that we are the norm in terms of size, body type, etc. However, this just isn’t so. In the natural world we are, in fact, looming giants gazing out across a thriving world that largely goes unnoticed by most. In his book, “The Smaller Majority,” biologist, author and photographer Piotr Naskrecki writes:
“Most of animal life on Earth is small. Over 90 percent of known species are smaller than a human finger, smaller, in fact, than your fingernail. Our perspective on reality is severely handicapped by our gargantuan size, rare giants surrounded by the smaller majority. Our enormous size prevents us from appreciating, or even noticing, most of what shares this planet with us...”
For the nature photographer this is exciting news! For the nature photographer who wishes to pursue macro photography, it is even more exciting! One’s awareness of this amazing fact opens up a portal into a world of many incredible photographic opportunities which lie just outside our back doors. In fact, I truly believe that there is as much beauty, action and excitement within walking distance of any our homes as that which is found on the Serengeti () plains of Africa; we just need to learn how to embrace this new perspective. Over time, I feel certain that it might just change your way of looking at life as we know it.
The purpose of this overview is to arm the beginner with the knowledge to 1) define macro photography, 2) learn how to select the right tools for most macro photographic opportunities, 3) apply the basic compositional and technical approach to making an image and 4) select some of the best times and ways to approach a given subject.
Before you get started on this adventure you first need to understand the true definition of macro photography which is: The process of photographing a subject at life size (1:1) up to 25x. This means that if you were shooting a lady bug on film, for example, you could hold the living subject next to the subject captured on film and the sizes of both would be identical.
Part two will focus on a more in-depth look at some basic equipment that can be used to photograph small subject matter.