Macro photography looks to take a deep dive into the smallest objects, presenting things from a fresh perspective. Capturing peculiar arrangements of those small items can be a laborious yet highly rewarding task. Each shot must be carefully planned and succinctly executed, lest you miss out on those golden opportunities.
So how does one go about zooming onto these stills of life? Wildlife photographer and nature enthusiast Kiran KV shares his secrets to immerse the audience into your macro photography works. “To me there is nothing quite like delving into the macro world. I love photographing insects in their natural environments, paying close attention to how they live their lives and attempting to capture moments in photography that tell a story.”
Gear yourself with the plentiful market of dedicated macro accessories and lenses that will aid on your macro photography journey, such as the AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G and the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.
Kiran personally recommends trying out the reverse macro techniques for DSLR owners; mount the lens in reverse and use an external flash with a diffuser. It won’t burn a hole in your pocket and produces superb results. You may also experiment with tripods and other equipment that suit your shooting style.
Choosing a specialised set of macro lens is optimal, as “having the ability to focus at 1:1 magnification right the way through to infinity really does make life much easier when photographing insects. It is worth bearing in mind that the longer the focal length of the macro lens, the further away you can be from the subject while photographing at 1:1 magnification.”
Look to hone your prowess by observing and photographing common subjects. Anything from crawling insects to skittering spiders are excellent characters to develop a story around. Kiran brings up ants as a prime example which are often overlooked, but serve as fantastic subjects to observe and capture their rush to finish tasks.
On that note, Kiran highlights a steep hill to climb will be grasping the timing and composition of macro photography shots. While they personify the hustle and bustle of life by being active, our little friends’ erratic movements might serve as unpredictable hindrances to your work. “Once you have found a subject, take your time and look closely at the scene. Think about angles, perspective and direction of light – any subtle variations of these elements can greatly affect your picture. Having said that, nature is often spontaneous. While this can present a challenge for photographers, it also offers us the opportunity to capture truly unique moments.”
Additionally, while Kiran often uses the rule of thirds to provide balance to his images, he shares that there is no definite formula for great macro photography. Instead, constantly adapting to the spontaneity of nature is the key to capturing those moments.
Besides the ants, other distinguishing features of common objects are fantastic subjects for macro photography, such as the compound eyes of insects and the tiny hairs of various spiders.
Looking at the bigger picture, shades of green are often the backdrop of nature-based macro photography. Take advantage of those powerful hues as it fills out the shot as an ambient colour, as seen in the image of the Ptecticus below. While it sets the tone of the image and provides feelings of serenity, they also interact with the presentation of your subject. Keeping a lookout for ways to best incorporate both elements is a great way to wow your viewers.
Kiran stresses that photography is all about enjoying the process and caring for the subjects. “Nature is there for everyone to enjoy, and no matter what level of expertise we have as photographers or the equipment we have available to us, it is the enjoyment of the process and the care for the subjects that must come first.”
Don’t inhibit yourself, venture into the boundless environments of calm woods, unbeaten tracks, flowing rivers, vibrant parks or even your own homely gardens. Capture those unwritten tales in various places, you’ll never know what treasures you may uncover.
Hailing from the Indian subcontinent, Kiran focuses his lens on the magnificent world of reverse macro photography. Fuelled with a passion for utilising a variety of techniques, his work sheds light on the unimaginable macro world.