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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Art Of Small

When, where and how to shoot better macro images

This Article Features Photo Zoom

A black-eyed Susan shot on a frosty October morning. Moats maintained sharpness by using a very small aperture setting.
Fuji S5 Pro, Tamron SP AF90mm F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro at ƒ/32

Mastering the art of macro photography in nature takes time and patience, but knowing when, where and how will make the journey a lot easier. If you’re limited on time or money to travel, macro photography is your answer. If you have only a few hours a week to shoot, you’ll find an abundance of subjects, from your backyard to the local park systems, and your cost is only a few gallons of gas, a park pass and a few books on flowers, plant life and bugs for identification.

With the changes that occur throughout the four seasons, the plants’ and insects’ various life cycles offer the macro photographer new opportunities with every month. Part of the fun of macro photography is learning about the ever-changing environments we live in. Study the different stages of plants and insects for shooting opportunities, as they vary in different parts of the country.

Fern fronds are tough to shoot as they’re close to the ground with lots of clutter. Moats cleaned up the background by cradling the fronds in a skunk cabbage leaf.
Fuji S5 Pro, Sigma 180mm F/3.5 EX DG IF HSM APO Macro at ƒ/22
As we all have busy schedules balancing work and family activities, finding time to shoot can be tough, but for the macro photographer anytime of the day will work. Unlike landscape photographers who find that the best light to shoot is early morning and late evening, macro photographers control the light by using diffusers and reflectors, so we’re not limited to any time frame.

When To Shoot
A variety of subjects can be found all year long as the environment is constantly changing every month of each season. The tiny landscapes of the macro world are changing by the minute, and knowing when to be in the field at the right time is the key to your success.

Buy and study books of the local plant life and learn the life cycles so you know when to be in the field as these subjects become available. Some wildflowers will bloom for long periods, giving you plenty of days to shoot, but some may bloom only for a few days, or at certain times of the day or night, and you need to be aware of these times to be in place as it happens. Learn the seasons of the wildflowers and any interesting plant life in your area because they vary with each region. Knowing that dragonflies and butterflies are less active on a cold morning, making them easier to approach, will help with your success, so network with other photographers or naturalists locally or online for this kind of information. In the state of Michigan, the changing of the fall colors will occur at three different times, starting with the Upper Peninsula, followed by the northern Lower Peninsula and then the southern Lower Peninsula, so study the timetables of these events.


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