Spreading My Wings With a Little Macro Photography

My wife and I recently spent a long weekend at a friends cabin in Sierraville, overlooking the vast valley and enjoying quiet time in nature. The perfect opportunity to try out some new photo techniques.

For this trip, I rented a telephoto macro lens (Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM). Since I never shot any macro objects before, I picked the telephoto macro lens without much research. The idea of shooting from a little farther distance without disturbing the subject sounded appealing.

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 800

Starting out on Friday I shot using a tripod but learned quickly that if you don’t have control over your subject it usually takes too much time to setup the shot with the tripod. Bugs and bumble bees are not that patience when it comes to photography. They like to buzz around on their own time :)

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 800

To Tripod or Not

If you don’t have control over your subjects, it’s better to shoot freestyle and without a tripod. By the time you have setup the tripod and camera, the subject has either already vanished or moved around too much. I also noticed that I was doing far more exploring and roaming around without the tripod. Trying out different angles and viewpoints.

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 800

Shooting Mode

All of my shots were taken in Aperture Priority or Manual mode, with continuous auto or manual focus. I had the camera in burst mode, which allowed me to take a series of rapid shots. It’s a number game when it comes to capturing the one shot that is worth sharing.

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 800

Choice of Lens

The tele-macro lens was great, but not something I would purchase. The tele-zoom wasn’t required for the subjects I was shooting, and it only added unnecessary weight. You can get pretty up close and personal with most bugs and lizards without scaring them away. Just be careful when you approach them. For my next trip, I will be trying out a wide-angle lens with extension tubes, and also a real macro lens with greater magnification.

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 800

A Bugs Life

Go out at different times. Just like we humans, bugs, and wildlife critters have their daily routines. Some insects are more active in the mornings while other insects come out during the day or late afternoon. Learn their routine and habits. If you know their routine, all it takes is a little patience to be in the right spot at the right time.

Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 100
Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 100
Sierraville Trip - Kai Gradert - 180 mm ISO 100

That’s it for now from my first explorations into macro photography. It’s a fascinating world at that level and always fun to spend extended time in nature.

in Travel Photography
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