Another relatively new 'genre' of photography for me this year. Although I have used my macro lens and done some other 'close up' work before, this year is the the first time I've really tried my hand at proper macro photography...
Firstly it is NOT for the faint hearted. You are going to come face to face with all sorts of creepy crawlies unless you confine yourself to macros of flowers and still life. The problem with those creepy crawlies is they move.... fast... one second they are in your view-finder and the next.... GONE!!!! Now I have looked through my view-finder at a big massive lion about 200m away from me - yes scary - BUT when I moved the camera away from my face I could still see the lion.
Um you not so lucky with these little critters. Nope they vanish and you have no idea where to.
Now it is no secret that I am no fan of spiders. As you can see from the photo at the bottom there is a nice big hairy spider straight in my face. The ironic thing is ever since I started taking an interest in macro photography almost at every turn I've come across spiders and taken photos of them. Can't say I'm 'cured' and not quite sure what I'd do if it had to land on me but I haven't squashed one yet this year... (we still have 24 days to go so I'm not making any promises!).
I must admit I'm not keen on grasshoppers. Again the critters have a habit of jumping towards you - whilst you are generally crouched in an awkward position, camera in hand, trying to take a photograph of the thing. Sort of makes you understand why some people prefer the 'freeze and shoot' method. Can guarantee a bit more dignity!
There are obviously loads of other objects that lend itself to macro photography. Both flowers, inanimate objects around the house etc. I have a large collection of various things I will shoot over time. I have concentrated here on the bugs to just give a clue on what it takes to get these kind of shots.
Patience, patience and more patience... and the ability not to humiliate yourself should one of the critters make a dive towards you.
The beauty of macro photography is it makes you LOOK!!!!
You don't just walk along the path scanning what is up ahead, your face is down, you scanning constantly and as you build your ability with your camera you also start to SEE more.
Suddenly little things that would have escaped your notice before suddenly jump out at you (thank goodness not literally!). I wouldn't recommend the 'stop and smell the roses' policy here but you do see so much more than you would have previously (and you less likely to trip over a branch in the pathway - see benefits people - look for benefits). Other 'benefits' - for the ladies the squats. You up and down along the path while you stop off to get to ground level to take the photos and of course you out in the fresh air getting exercise.
Once you get home and download your photos you start to spot little details you wouldn't have picked up while out in the field. And there is beauty in even the simplest of objects. The creatures you photograph may be tiny but they are perfectly tiny in every respect and it makes you appreciate their simple beauty (no matter how 'ugly' they seem at first). You learn that they are quite feisty as well. I've had a few showdowns with spiders and bugs. They get quite temperamental about this huge lens being pushed up in their tiny little faces.
But it's fascinating. And I'm loving every little bit of getting up close and personal with nature. Yes I've grown to appreciate the wild (more about that in another blog) but there is simple beauty in being able to step into my garden and know that with a little bit of patience and looking I will find something that while tiny in my world is huge in its own.
Just remember though while you are out and about to respect their habitat like you would of any 'wildlife'. Try not to break their webs or disturb them if they are mating. Watch where you are stepping and check for nests. Respect the small just like you would respect the large.
But stop and look once in a while. I promise you it is more than worth it.