Beautiful Blue Butterflies at Berry Head

More Macro

In the blog last week I talked about Discovering the Joy of Macro Photography. This was my first real attempt at macro photography and I have to say, I really enjoyed it! Yes, it was challenging, but it was a very rewarding type of photography.

From that experience I knew that this was a genre of photography that I would want to do again. So when friend and fellow photographer Neil Burnell said he was heading out to photograph some butterflies and would I like to come, there really was only one answer I could give!

Common Blue #1, Devon - Nikon D850, Zeiss 100mm f/2 at f/3.5, 1/400th second at ISO 1600

Beautiful Bokeh

One of the challenges I have with doing macro photography is that I don’t actually own a macro lens. I borrowed a Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 when I shot the banded demoiselles last week and I was going to have to borrow again for this shoot. Fortunately for me Neil offered to lend me his beautiful Zeiss 100mm f/2 Makro-Planar lens.

As soon as I started using this lens I noticed what a different experience it was from using my Nikkor lenses. The focusing can only be described as buttery smooth! It made precisely focusing the lens a real joy. That didn’t necessarily make capturing the images easy as the subject could still move because of the gentle breeze but at least when it was still you could be confident with the focusing. Couple that with the D850’s focus peaking in live view, the job of focusing was at least made a little simpler

As a landscape photographer I’m not that concerned with bokeh. Most of the time I’m trying to get front to back sharpness so I rarely use wide apertures. In this instance though I very much wanted to create some lovely bokeh in my shots. I’d been looking at Neil’s work in this area but it soon became apparent to me that even though the Zeiss lens could create some lovely bokeh, putting the subject and the other elements all together to create the look was more challenging than I had originally thought!

Common Blue #2, Devon - Nikon D850, Zeiss 100mm f/2 at f/3.2, 1/800th second at ISO 1600

Easy To Miss

As with my previous macro adventure, having someone along with the relevant knowledge was key. Neil knew exactly where to find the butterflies and identify which species they were. The thing that got me though was how small they were! Both the Common Blue and Small Blue that I photographed were tiny. They were about the size of a thumbnail and could be easily missed.

Being so small it’s hard to see all the beautiful detail in these wonderful creatures. This is where the joy of macro photography gets me. Put a macro lens on your camera and suddenly you can see all the tiny details from the stripes along the antenna, the hairs an the thorax and the striking patterns of the wings. A macro lens really does open up a whole new world of natural beauty.

Small Blue, Devon - Nikon D850, Zeiss 100mm f/2 at f/2.8, 1/160th second at ISO 2000

These last two trips out with the camera to do macro photography have really opened my eyes on how I could capture the “landscape” in a different way. Yes, I love taking those big landscape photographs but I’m also quickly learning that there is a whole other world of photography down at my feet.

Just before I finish up the blog, I just want to thank Neil again for inviting me out. Without his local knowledge I would have been a bit lost! As I’m finding out with macro photography, knowledge of your subject is as important as being able to use your camera gear. If you’re looking to develop your macro photography and then definitely check out Neil’s 1-2-1 close up tuition page.

I’m not sure what will be in the blog next week, but one thing is for sure, if there is a chance to do more macro photography I’ll be taking it!

Are you a macro photographer? What is your favourite subject to photograph? Let me know in the comments below.