Macro photography opens up a whole new world of subjects. A participant in one of my workshops last year compared it to Alice in Wonderland, which is a pretty good analogy.
A lot goes on in the world of tiny that we mostly don’t notice, and that makes it easy to have fun with macro photography. For a nature photographer, I think macro photography is especially valuable as you can find subjects anywhere. You don’t have to go to an exotic destination or even an iconic National Park.
Find a patch of weeds or even a single dandelion growing out of a crack in the cement to create a great macro image. Now get close and look — I mean really look.
Slow down and pay attention. All kinds of details and probably some insects that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise will manifest once you start really looking.
This Rounded Metalmark is a good example of what happens when you pay attention. While moving a photo blind I noticed some movement near my feet.
I looked closely and saw this less than 3/4″ butterfly nectaring on some equally tiny flowers. I quickly grabbed my macro lens, got on my belly, lined the butterfly up with my truck tire (the dark background) and captured a delightful image. The butterfly and flower were both very small and would have been easily overlooked.
Going smaller still, this Western Pygmy-blue is the smallest butterfly in North America (some say in the world) with a wingspan of about 1/4-inch. I found this little guy by looking very closely to see what I could find. It was a chilly morning and the butterfly was too cold to fly. I used this to my advantage as I coaxed him to crawl on my finger and onto this flower. It made a much nicer image than the stick I found him on.
The Monarch is a large flashy butterfly, but with macro we can get in there and show its beautiful details. This is not always easy to do with wild butterflies as they will often fly before you can get in this close.
A 180mm macro lens will give you a better chance as you don’t have to be as physically close to capture these intimate details.
JOIN ME! In October 2017 for my Macro Photography Workshop. This popular event always sells out.
A true macro lens will often allow you to focus so closely that your subject becomes somewhat of an abstract. This provides a great opportunity to get your creative juices flowing. With such a small subject you can manipulate the light and play with different angles, perspectives and backgrounds; with just a slight change in your perspective you create a completely different look.
Macro photographer Mike Moats likes to say “There’s more to macro than flowers and bugs.” I agree, but — as you can see — I have been seduced by “flowers and bugs.” Whatever seduces you, I urge you to look, really look, and discover your own Macro Wonderland.