I have always had strong fascination for the tiny world of insects and spiders, partially thanks to strong inspiration and much kind guidance from fellow Olympus shooter Amir Ridhwan. There was a time I dedicated most of my shooting time in the weekend looking for macro subjects, and worked very hard to improve my lighting setup and shooting techniques. I only had my trusty Olympus E-520 and the budget, yet very useful and sharp Olympus Zuiko Digital 35mm F3.5 macro lens, which I wished I did not sell off. It was probably one of the lenses which I regretted selling, and wished to buy back when I intend to get back to the insect macro game. Then suddenly the Sony happened unexpectedly, so now the 35mm macro will have to wait.
Digging through my old archives, as far back as 2009 (not that far back actually, but I have first picked up a DSLR in 2008, so I was fairly new back then when I took the shots in this blog entry) I found many photographs which brought back memories. There were times I braved the rain in the butterfly park, shooting butterflies with water droplets on their eyes and wings. There were times I ventured into the reserved forest in the middle of the night (we went in at 9.30pm and got out from the jungle some time between 1.00am-2.00am) for night insect macro hunt. Those were the times of real adventures I dare say, somehow the process of hunting for subjects was a huge part of the excitement. When I found something I have not encountered before, the adrenaline rush was like nothing I have felt before, and as I worked the camera and flash to capture the shots, it felt "victorious". Ok, that was not exactly the best word to describe my feeling, but it was a great feeling, and it stayed on even until now, when I viewed back the old photographs. They say that emotional connection you have when you made the photos is temporary, and you should not rely on that to judge your own photographs. Rubbish. That emotional feeling, sometimes, is what makes the whole shooting process worthwhile. Never, never disregard that.
When you open your eyes, like really, really open your eyes, the world around you will surprise you. The beauty in nature can be hidden, and it was an indescribable joy to discover the world of macro insect and spiders.
All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-520 and Zuiko Digital 35mm F3.5 macro, with external flash FL-36R. Images were shot in various locations around Kuala Lumpur, in the year 2009.
They come in dozens
Molting, or changing skin
Very thin legs
100% crop from previous image. That 35mm F3.5 lens is crazy sharp for something so cheap.
Amstrong, a fellow macro shooter in action.
The drawback of the 35mm lens, you have got to move in very, very close. Not ideal for very sensitive subjects.
So why look back to older photographs? Should we not move on and make better and new ones? True, I agree to that. I also believe it is important to take a pause from time to time and really look into what we have done and accomplished so far, and pick out the images that we truly enjoy shooting. I find myself enjoying my macro shooting immensely, probably even more than street shooting. The only reason I do not do macro as often as I like, is the difficulties of travel, and jungle trekking, hill climbing, those are activities that are extremely physically challenging, not to mention time consuming. A typical, productive macro session would last at least 4 hours long, and even so I would only come home with a few useable images, unlike a street shooting session which I could just shoot for less than an hour and have enough images to over-fill a blog entry. Time and energy are something I find I do not have much luxury of.
After viewing all the macro shots, I suddenly realized how I missed Olympus colors, after spending so much time with Sony lately. There is just that unique warmth, something soothing, something beautiful about the way Olympus renders color, even from the old E-520, and thankfully the magic formula stays on with my current main workhorse E-5. The Sony does color very well too, but it is lacking something. I do not know quite how to put this in words. Perhaps this is a matter of personal preference. Perhaps Sony has improved their color reproduction in newer camera generations (they have got to). After having such wonderful color tones from Olympus, it is just so hard to look away.
Of course, those images in this blog entry were taken more than 3 years ago, when I was just starting out in photography. Yes I did wish I have improved my lighting method, which seemed very harsh and uneven in some shots. I also wished I have composed some shots better. Nonetheless, there were so many things that could have been done differently, but those were the results I have obtained in those days. The insects and spiders were real. The thrill while I found the macro subjects were true. The excitement and rush as I click the shutter button, reviewing the image and then redo the whole process to make sure I get that best shot, were still fresh. Those are the reasons why I love doing macro. It was as if you have found a Tiger hunting down a Zebra and then chewing the zebra's leg off, posing in such a beautiful manner, and you were standing at the most auspcious shooting position, using just the right lens with the perfect focal length, and the lighting was just nice. That "national geographic" feeling. Hey, every boy can dream his dream. Or maybe I have watched and read too much of that awesome Life of Pi.
Any macro shooter out there? Do share your feeling when you shoot !!