Close Up Photography in Nature
You are seeing this butterfly about twice it’s normal size. John took this beautiful image with a 100mm macro (close-up) lens and Kodak 800 Max film. Exposure was f11 at 1/500th, hand-held! See how this self-proclaimed “serious amateur” manages to generate these marvelous, first-rate images.
I met John at the local drugstore where he was looking over his latest “take” of nature photos. On one roll of Kodak Max 800 film he had captured an astounding variety of beautiful macro photographs, including a praying mantis, a bee (full-frame), the buckeye butterfly (top of the page) and others. He is totally self-motivated, shooting for the love of photography and constantly challenging himself to improve.
His favorite “hunting ground” is a small garden maintained by the City of North Wildwood (NJ). He approaches his photography much like those wildlife photographers who stalk grizzlies and tigers. He knows their habits, is patient and quiet, sometimes even building blinds to camouflage himself in order to capture his subjects.
If you wish to become an accomplished wildlife photographer, this is an excellent training lesson for you. It can be done simply, with a minimum of equipment, and the cost is low. John uses an older Minolta X7000 SLR camera with two lenses – a 100mm macro and a 500mm mirror.
He does not use special filters, ring lights, reflectors or flashes. He keeps it simple, insisting that “more shots are messed up due to camera shake than anything else”. All of his shots are hand-held.
For this shot, John built a “blind”, completely covering his bedroom window except for a small hole to poke the lens through. He pressed his 100mm macro (adding a 2X tele-extender) against the glass (to avoid camera shake) and made a few exposures.
John captured this dragonfly with his 500mm mirror lens, which he usually uses for shooting egrets and other birds of the wetlands.. “It’s kind of tricky because you cannot change the aperture (it is fixed at f8) and the 500mm is hard to hold still. But I was intrigued by the dragonfly’s wings, the markings are different and I wanted to show the detail. Depth of field is so shallow that the wings on the left start to blur.