A BIG night for little things

On the evening of Monday 23 March members of the club were held captivated by a wonderful talk on macro photography by club member, professional photographer and naturalist John Gardner (did you know he has a license to handle bats?).

In the first half of the evening John went through many of the practical aspects of macro photography, starting out with what it is and how it differs from close-up photography. Basically for it to be called true macro work then the image on the camera sensor (or in the old days film) must be life size or greater. This leads to the use of specialist lenses and accessories. Although many ordinary lenses have the word “macro” on them, they aren’t true macro lenses and more accurately they are close-up lenses as they can’t give you that one-to-one size on the sensor. John reviewed the range of specialist macro lenses and identified the pros and cons of each type. As not everyone can afford the specialist lenses John also looked at accessories which enable ordinary lenses to become, effectively, macro lenses. These include close-up filters, extension tubes and reversing rings. All of these can produce good results (with a little more effort) for a fraction of the cost. Moving on he examined some of the issues when taking macro photographs – depth of field (or lack of it!), lighting, and focussing.

In the second half we were treated to a stunning set of images which John had taken using the equipment and techniques he had talked about in the first half. There was a large selection of images showing what can be achieved and some the common problems and mistakes.. Talking to each image he explained how the techniques had been used to achieve the effect, sometimes showing two or more slides of the same subject (wasp, beetle, butterfly etc.) to illustrate both with and without the technique. Just to prove that you don’t need to go to exotic location for this work, most of the images were shot either in John’s own garden or within a few miles of Wakefield. He also included tips on how to find the subject and the best angles, times of day etc. to get “the shot” that works.

As usual John’s talk was practical, informative and entertaining making for an excellent evening. I suspect that there may be many members crawling through the undergrowth with their cameras this year in the hunt for insects.


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