I often get asked questions about my photos. Usually it's about technical stuff, but the technical side is only one part of the story. Here are answers to a few typical questions I get asked. (English is not my mother tongue, so apologies for any mistakes.)
- What equipment do you use?
All the shots in these galleries are taken with either a Canon 5D Mk II, or a Canon 5D Mk III. In almost all of the shots I used a Canon MP-E 65 lens. One or two shots were taken with the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM macro lens. The light is more difficult to judge. I like to use an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra RX flash, which is in fact a big studio flash. In those situations, when there's no space or time, I use all kinds of Canon flashes with different diffusors.
- You are photographing with Canon, can I take such pictures with my XYZ?
Sure, why not? The brand and even the price of the camera is secondary. While it is fun to use expensive equipment, there's no necessity to do so. I know many macro photographers, that do awesome work with cheap equipment. There are so many possibilities when taking high magnification shots.
- I want to take shots, like you do. What do you recommend?
Almost all shot in these folders are high magnification shots. The reproduction ratio is usually between 2:1 and 4:1. (an explanation of the term is here)
Usual macro lenses cover a reproduction ratio up to 1:1. If you want to go further, you will experience all kind of unexpected problems. I recommend you start with a normal macro lens and practise shooting as often as possible. If you have enough experience, you will know, when and how to go further.
- You must be using a tripod, right?
No, I never use a tripod for shooting animals. All the animals in my shots are very active and are usually moving rapidly. A tripod would hinder me, I just wouldn't be fast enough.
Most other macro photographers though would tell you, that you absolutely need one.
- Your pictures are so sharp, you surely use focus stacking?
No, I never use focus stacking. (an explanation of focus stacking is here)
To make use of focus stacking, you need to have relatively immobile objects.
I'm almost never lucky enough to find a motionless animal. Even, when they are motionless there will almost certainly be a wind. So I convinced myself, that I don't need focus stacking, as long as I set the plane of focus carefully.
- This can't be true. You kill/freeze/gas the animals, right?
Absolutely not! I would never intentionally harm an animal to get a picture. NO picture would justify the killing of an animal. All the insects in my pictures are wild animals and the pictures are taken outdoors. On some pictures, I use a drop of sugar water as a bait.
- Oh, you use the MP-E 65! I want one too!
The MP-E 65 is a highly specialized macro lens. Either you love it, or you hate it.
It lacks image stabilisation and there's no autofocus. It does not even have manual focus! The depth of field is extremely small at higher magnification, and the working distance is around 4 centimeters at high magnification. If you want to work with it, then you need experience, strong wrists and lot of patience. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but I personally wouldn't want to be without it.
- Do you use flash?
Sure. At higher magnification, you can't live without it. Even bright sunlight is not bright enough. To get soft and decent light, is the most difficult part of shooting macros. I'm always seeking good diffusion.