I thought I would take the opportunity to write down a couple of pointers from some insights I have come to along the way within the genre of macro photography in nature.
I hope there is something that can be of use for all of you who have just entered the wonderful world of macro and please feel free to ask should you have any questions.
1.Do not forget about composition and concepts
Some macro shots are obviously beautiful just as is, in their own simplicity being the colors or beautiful light but many macros I see lose the dynamic part. As you get really close it can be difficult to think about composition and concepts and many times you fall into the trap of simply documenting what you have in front of you. I take my picture below as an example, that sure I could have gotten closer to only the white flower and it would have looked nice but no real depth to it. Instead I saw a concept in my head of ‘Out with the old and in with the new’ and by taking a step back I could get a beautiful macro shot of the white but also maintaining the brown one in the background representing ‘the old’ and suddenly the shot gives meaning to me.
Here is another example of trying to bring that extra level to the shot by playing on a ‘natural galaxy’ with all of its little stars and adding that depth to the image that perhaps makes people stick around to watch it that extra bit of time.
Photography is beautiful in its simplicity of solely documenting as well but personally I think it touches something deep down when you can bring composition and a meaning with you. See it as a way to interpret nature in your own personal way and the best thing about it all is that there is only one way to do it, your own way.
2.Grow a patience
You will definitely need one as you sit there cursing over the bumblebee or fly that suddenly left just as you were about to take your shot. All living creatures are of course very unpredictable in their movements, thus a good patience will come in very handy. Sometimes you find the perfect setting and all you have to do is wait for that perfect moment. Perhaps it is the wind that will test your patience but it is also important to remember that some of these things can be prevented and the wind is one by bringing something that can work as a windshield for you.
As a general rule we hear of many people talking about vantage points in photography and I think it needs to be mentioned in the genre of macro photography as well. Experiment by getting a shot from very low or straight down on your subject/object. You can catch amazing shots by getting flowers from underneath when the sun is hitting the leaves just right as well as the beauty and majestic feel to capturing flowers from above.
4.Have fun and go a bit crazy in post production
Once you have your shots (captured in raw format of course) make sure to have fun in post production and dare to go a bit crazy. Personally I think post production has become so important in the sense that it can truly add an extra element to your shot. I believe it is a crucial part to photography as a whole and the sooner you get to love it the more fun it will be. I love every single step of the creative process myself and the editing gives me so many tools to add that little bit of extra feel to your groundwork done in the field. Some shots need very little post processing but train yourself in the invaluable tools that you have at your disposal because they really are a big contributing factor to taking your game to the next level.
5.Invest in good gear
Obviously the most important part is what sits on top of your shoulders because without it no gear in the world can save you. However with a really good macro lens and good editing software as a good foundation it will get you very far in taking your macro photography to the next level. Personally I use a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and I could not be happier. It is truly a fantastic lens that comes with a higher price tag but in my opinion the best money I ever spent on a lens so far. In regards to editing software you can go a long way with the latest version of Lightroom 6 and then add Nik Software which is free of charge. I have my macro lens attached to a Canon 6d so I get the full format but I have seen the lens perform amazingly on Canon cameras such as the 60d to mention another one.
Perhaps you are surprised I haven’t mentioned anything about a tripod yet and of course, if you want those absolutely perfect tack sharp macro images then obviously a tripod is the way to go but I think the biggest joy is in doing macro photography freehand and improvising as you go along. Nor have I mentioned the concept of stacking in order to get full focus on the entire image but as you can see from some of my own examples, I think you can go a long way even without the stacking or the tripod and in the end the most crucial part is to really enjoy it.
Have a wonderful day