Thursday, June 21, 2012

on Insect Portraits and Shooting Flowers

I've never been any good at shooting plants and flowers. Well, I'm really not good at anything that isn't moving.

The only time flowers interest me is when I see an insect land on it. And on a recent shoot while I was out looking for Lynx Spiders, I found this bee hovering on a white flower. I had to crouch down to get the bee to eye level and to my surprise it didn't even seem to mind me at all. It was just doing its own thing while I took a few shots before it flew to the next flower.

bee and pollen (1 of 2)

bee and pollen (2 of 2)

One thing to note is that lately I have been trying to make sure I at least get one front facing (portrait) shot of whatever insect. I credit is as the reason why I have been so interested in macro photography lately. I don't know why, but front facing shots make me happy. For me, it's just like taking a picture of a person; the only difference is that I can't ask an insect to look at the camera. Probably the challenge of taking that type of shot is what makes me want to take more.

Monday, June 18, 2012

on Luck and In Flight Macro

Luck plays a huge part in my photography.

I roam a really small area and get only a number of densely populated shrubs and bush. But during a recent macro shoot I had, I was lucky that as I was leaving the area I chanced upon a bee hovering on a flower. I took in flight shots but wasn't sure if I got a decent shot since I had a manual focus lens. I didn't get to review it since I only had a few seconds before the bee landed on a leaf.

In the short minute that the bee was in front of my lens I got one portrait and an in-flight shot. It was my first time to shoot something in flight with a manual focus macro lens and get it somewhat in focus.

bee portrait

bee in flight

Being lucky and having the skill is a must in macro photography. You can't just go killing bugs and sticking them to a plant with glue for a controlled macro scene. Moving around, watching for movement, anticipating the next actions and getting spot on focus are some of the things I have been trying to perfect when I shoot. And I want to shoot my subjects in their natural habitat too. But when I reflect on it, even if I was the best macro shooter (and I am not even that good), if I didn't have luck, I still wont be able to shoot insects even when I am in the area where the usually hang out.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

on Holiday Macro Adventures

Overcast days are perfect for photography especially when you go out hunting for macro subjects.

The country is celebrating it's independence day and it is a holiday. I took advantage of the holiday plus the overcast skies to shoot macro. I got about fifty keepers today; I will sort them out later. But as I have said before, one photo will make your day. And boy, did this one really make my day.

I was in my favorite macro spot where there is a pepper plant. It is home to huge and fierce looking ants and some predator flies. I was waiting for a bronze jumping spider to face me when I saw movement about three feet away. There was this fat jumping spider moving from leaf to leaf. It was one of the few times I saw a Jumping Spider really jump about a foot in distance. I quickly moved around the bush to where it was and found it already had something in its jaws. I would have been awesome to see it grab the wasp looking insect but I had to settle for a photo of it feeding. I only had three frames of this spider and this one is the best.

jumping spider and prey (1 of 1)

This is probably my current favorite spider photo. The details are awesome and I can clearly make out the prey too. It makes walking around in the bush for hours worth the effort.

Happy Independence Day to everyone!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

on Jumper Portraits

In photography, you really need to find what you want to shoot and how you like to shoot...

There are times that I find shooting portraits boring. I tell the model how to pose, to look at the camera, drop the smile and then take the shot. I memorized how to frame my shot and how to post process it after. The monotonous shoots shorten my attention span to that of a kid (not that it is that long in the first place).

But I have found a type of portrait I would never get tired of. I can't tell my subject to pose or look at the camera. I cannot dictate the angle in which I am to shoot or even tell my subject to stay still. I have to make do with that short window of opportunity to get that shot I want; but when I get it, the feeling of success is really uplifting.

I am talking about shooting insect portraits. And specifically Jumping Spider portraits. Those beady eyes really get my attention. It will never be boring to shoot such portraits because it is hard work even finding jumpers in that ideal setting where I can shoot such portraits. And when you find then, you get about a minute or two to shoot. And while shooting you just have to pray your camera settings are spot on. It is a matter of both skill and luck; and a whole lot of patience.

Here are the first of many shots...

jumper portrait light brown (1 of 1)

jumper portrait dark brown (1 of 1)

I like the darker spider better and was lucky that when I bent the branch it didn't move for a while. The light brown one clearly just finished feeding because of the big fat abdomen. It couldn't move as much so I got the shot. I am really happy with these two shots. I wish I'll get lucky again in the coming days...