As a photographer, I often find myself envious of those who can capture grand panoramic vistas or elegant city skylines. I’m talking about the types of photos that just make me wish that I was the one who was there to witness the beauty of that moment, of that perspective… the one who pushed the shutter. Somehow, though, every time I wander outside, drawn there by some amazing cloud formation, color cast, or stormy vista, I find myself wrapped up in the small things around my feet. I’m quite often a macro sort of girl.
Born and raised in the North (originally from Canada… eh?), I grew up surrounded by gray cloudy skies, cold slushy streets, and stark winter landscapes. Sure, we had summer too, but come on, anyone who lives up north knows that summer is, at best, 2.5 months out of the year. It comes and goes fast!
When we moved south to Florida, everything changed. The sun is out nearly every single day. And if it isn’t shining bright, there’s likely something amazing happening… maybe a massive, bone-shaking thunder storm, a brush fire, throngs of migrating birds, a hurricane,… you name it. I was immediately inspired.
It was the unique way the sunlight hits water that started my water studies just two years ago:
Up Close with Nature
And recently, I had a close encounter with one of the most dewy mornings I’ve ever seen in my life:
Just this past year, I finally got up the nerve to sink some cash into a good macro 1:1 lens. I’ve always been a fan, but never had quite the right set up for precisely the images I wanted to capture. I shoot with a variety of lenses, but that 1:1 is what gets super close, super sharp. Here’s what I have to play with:
- Sony A77
I adore the live-view preview on the LCD that shows me how my exposures look before I ever push the shutter
- Sony 35 mm (SAL35F18)
Great for a wider frame, when you don’t want to be “that close”
- Minolta 50 mm 1.7 (you can find these on ebay for very little $$)
My first exploration with a prime lens, my first love and a bargain price to boot
- Sony 100 mm f/2.8 (SAL100M28)
My heavy hitter, get up in your face, close lens
How I Shoot
Everyone has their own style really, but the types of photos that grab my eye are those that really narrow down the focus, so your attention is squarely on the focal point. I adore how this makes the very small look somewhat magical. When you can no longer identify items in the background, it gives the image a sense of magic… that this whimsical place could have been created anywhere (even if it was just shot against your driveway). To get blown-out, buttery backgrounds, shoot with your aperture wide open. This gives you the advantage of a faster shutter speed and lower ISO… less grain, less hand-held motion blur issues. Voila!
So, if you shoot macro, what’s your method or favorite piece of gear?