Thursday, August 25, 2011

On Ants Marching In

It's raining again, so it means I can blog before I leave the office.

I have long been fascinated by ants. When I was a kid, I would start ant wars between red and black ants. Sometimes, I'd find insects to place in the ant mound just so I could watch those vicious red ants dissect them piece by piece. I was also fond of messing up their scent trails so the next ant following the line would get lost. Its always fun watching ants; or perhaps it’s just me.

And lately, I discovered an ant colony in a shrub just in front of our house. They were bigger than the normal red ants, have mean looking mandibles and brandished stingers at the rear end when threatened. And yes, their bite is pretty painful; I wouldn't recommend going near them.

tamron 90 (5 of 6)

Since I shoot manual using a manual focus lens, I need to first understand how they move and react to me. And the first thing I noticed when I started shooting them is that they are feisty. Any movement near their colony would make the ants show of their weapons to deter you to get closer. But that’s probably the only way to shoot them creatively since as ants, they never stand still for very long. I constantly coax them so that they wont move away while I shoot. That little trick works for me.

tamron 90 (6 of 6)

I didn't spend a very long time shooting as I forgot to clean my memory card before I went exploring. Hopefully, I can find the time this weekend to shoot them again; and hopefully in good light.

tamron 90 (1 of 6)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Insects and People

A client once asked me: why do you spend more time shooting insects than shooting people?

She probably wondered because I told her that I spent a lot of time shooting macro when I should be out earning a living to support my hobby. I know insects can't pay me. In fact, I spent more on macro stuff than any other type of gear; I even use my only portraiture lens for macro purposes. The return on investment is practically zero in macro photography. Nobody wants to buy stock photos since its too easy to just go out and shoot. And those darn macro lenses are so darn expensive.

So why do I do it?

Well, for one, there is a different sort of satisfaction in taking photos and learning at the same time. You get to observe insects and other living things up close. You learn how they move, react to people and what they are made of. It's fun to spend hours on end crawling and searching for new insects in a grassy field; cuts, itching and all. And shooting macro is no easy feat especially with jittery insects and all the things that crawl around your feet. I developed discipline and patience; moving slowly and not rushing into things is key in this field.

And there are other things as well...

Insects do not complain how you shoot or what your output looks like after. They don't dictate to you anything and they don't make faces when they aren't happy. Oh, and they trust you fully. How can I say they trust me? Because they sit still. If they don't trust me, they just simply jump or fly away. No words said, no complains, they will just let you shoot if they want you too; creative freedom at its finest.

I wish people were more trusting or honest just like insects.

And lastly, unlike most other hobbyists who aspire to become pro photographers, I do not aim to be like Lito Sy, Dino Lara or any of the other big name photographers. My dream is to be a National Geographic Society photographer. Now, I can't name any NatGeo photographers even after watching that special on macro photography; but I do know I want to be one. Growing up, my dad a whole collection of NatGeo magazines and I read every one of them. And ever since, I wanted to take those kinds of pictures. Shooting macro is my way of somehow living my dream. I am not a NatGeo photographer (yet), but at least I am making interesting photos. That in its self is worth the time and money I spend.

So there... I am, and will always be a macro photographer first and everything else second.

(I'll leave you with my newest addition to my growing macro insect dictionary.) :D

Tortoise Beetle
tortoise beetle

White Leafhopper
white leafhopper

Derbid Bug
derbid bug