Showing small things in a big way: That's the art of macro photography. The insect kingdom is a classic field of experimentation with an overwhelming range of motifs. At present, around 33,000 different species still live in Germany. CHIP PHOTO-VIDEO shows how to stage these little animals in front of the lens with patience and sensitivity as well as the right technique.
In the right place at the right time
The astonishing beauty as well as the richness of species is the reason why so many photographers look for arthropods. On sunny days insects are extremely active and only stay on flowers or grasses for a short time. The time slot for the perfect shot is much tighter than in the early morning or evening. With lower temperatures, the animals' restlessness also diminishes. Nevertheless: Any careless and hectic movement can quickly drive them away. If the photographer is cautious, shots can also be taken with relatively short (macro) focal lengths of 50 mm (KB) or 60 mm (KB). The results convince with more spatial depth and a natural look. Longer focal lengths, on the other hand, have the advantage that humans can keep a greater distance from beetles, dragonflies and the like.
Ensure good lighting conditions
The sun is so low in the early morning or evening that it is a perfect light source. It is worthwhile to purchase a reflector in addition to the natural light source. It redirects the sunlight and thus illuminates shady areas. Such supporting equipment does not cost much and is usually easy to store. If the sun cannot be relied upon, even a small LED lamp can help. Its light is quite harsh but can be softened with the reflector. There are also a few macro lenses that have an LED lamp installed at the front next to the lens. If the photographer's shadow falls on the subject, it still gets enough light.
Clever use of technology
From a purely technical point of view, one only speaks of a macro if the images have a reproduction scale of 1:1. This means that the 5 mm long sensor of a beetle also occupies 5 mm on the sensor. Normal lenses have a so-called close-up limit of 1:5, so a special macro lens is needed. The next challenge is the depth of field. The closer the photographer gets to his subject, the shorter the sharp area in the picture becomes. He has to stop down to extend the depth of field. As a result, less light falls on the sensor, so either the shutter speed must be slowed or the ISO must be increased. Since even the slightest movement of the subject in the macro area can cause a blurry photo, it is worth using a faster shutter speed (e.g. 1/250 sec.). It is also recommended to use a tripod and to activate the mirror lock-up function with a DSLR - this promises the highest possible sharpness.
The entire article with further practical tips from the professional photographer Radomir Jakubowski on the subject of "macro photography" will be published in the next issue of CHIP PHOTO VIDEO (4/2019). The magazine is available for purchasing from 6 March as well as in the CHIP kiosk.