Further explorations as ‘lockdown’ is still with us. Still in the garden I’ve gone ‘macro’ This is my first venture and an interesting learning curve which after some spectacular failures a few to share on this blog. A few technical notes at the foot of this blog in case anyone else is starting a similar venture.
For macro all my work is with my Olympus micro four thirds kit. The reason I opted for this was weight, Olympus’s marvellous image stabilisation, and a very slightly increased available depth of field.
For those interested in kit, I use;
- Olympus EM1 mkll (pretty much my go to everyday camera)
- Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro – a new purchase and so worthwhile with such quality from so small a lens
- Nissin i40 flash with home made light modifier (see below) A lighting solution is absolutely essential to place the right amount of light over the subject when you need to use flash
- Extension tubes (for when the action gets very small) I chose simple Meike tubes from ebay (c.£20) which seem to work absolutely fine
- A simple monopod – this helps nail the focus, and especially useful with focus stacking. (see below)
A few tips on approach
- check out the tutorials and advice on you tube and other social media, if new to the subject like me it will save so much time ( a few links that have helped me below)
- take time to look and keep on looking, insects and bugs are typically shy or just don’t want to be seen (which often means eaten) they are everywhere you just need to find them, don’t forget the underside of leaves
- early mornings are good, insects often warm themselves in the sun and at that time are less mobile. Remember not to get between the sun and your subject or they will be disturbed and you may lose your shot
- the money shot pretty much always involves the eyes, work stealthily to get the angle
- A low shooting angle not only helps to develops a ‘face to face’ composition but also helps to illustrate the world from their perspective
- the background is often what makes a shot (as other genres) ideally uncluttered and with a good colour. The depth of field will help though can’t be relied on especially with strong contrasts
- My go to camera set-up with flash is a shutter speed of 1/250th and aperture of f8. Without the flash the same aperture though as fast a shutter speed as I can without forcing the ISO. I shoot in manual so i can fix both these parameters though don’t believe this is essential
- When you get frustrated that you just can’t get enough of the subject in focus – look up focus-stacking, most modern cameras have it (often ‘bracketing’ in the menu)
- Finally and most importantly it’s their world and you are a visitor, no shot is so important to disturb them in their day to day life. There are 2 million insects for every human on the planet, that makes for a lot of opportunities.
Thank you Olympus and Geraint Rainford for an introduction to Focus stacking https://www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk/macro-focus-stacking/
and finally Maximilian Simson for some great ideas, though specifically his advice on light modifiers https://www.maxamillion.online/blog/macro-light-modifiers I am using #4 the modified ‘pringle tube’ and can’t believe its so simple and effective