Tag Archives: Macro photography

Moth Drama: Transforming The Ordinary into Art

Click to view the full 9-image set

A moth in full drama mode. The ordinary becomes extraordinary through photography & apps. Click to see what went into creating this image.

Here’s a look at how a simple moth can serve as subject for a striking, dramatic image by way of a macro lens attachment and some basic iPhone app editing (mainly Photoforge2, which I review here). Through the course of nine images, I take you through how the ordinary transforms into a fulfilling creative experience.

The effect of the final image above reflects my initial vision: dramatic gravity drawing the eye to the fine and generally unseen detail in this humble moth. To me, this is a great example of how photography, especially when spurred by photo-sharing experiences like Instagram, can elevate our everyday surroundings to an evocative level of art readily appreciated by others.

Moth Drama Set
Click to view the step-by-step creation of the final image at top.
Instagram promo for this post - click to see series at Flickr

Instagram promo for this post - made with Phonto, Labelbox & Photoforge2 apps

In the  case of the final image, I got the texture I was after by shooting with Hipstamatic then adjusting the result of that with layers in Photoforge2. But I wanted more dimension than just grayscale, so I added some red. To do this, I duplicated the grayscale layer and added red via the “colorize” function. Then I then masked portions of the top (red) layer to allow the bottom (gray) layer to appear through, using varying brush sizes and opacities. Finally, I set the blending mode of the top (red) layer to overlay, and set the opacity to 75%. Same principles also work in Photoshop, which is one reason I so strongly endorse Photoforge2.

If the above description gets you excited (you nerd), definitely check out the step-by-step series with notes at Flickr.

What do you think? Have you taken the ordinary to an artful place through photography or some other means? Have you done any macro photography of your own, and if so what’s your experience been like? What gear do you recommend? What’s your opinion on creating art from the everyday world? Do you find tips/tutorials like this useful? Let us hear from you in the comments!

The Jungleamongus: 5 Tips for Great Insect Photography

We are surrounded all the time by insects. There are WAY more of them than there are of us, by many millions. When the Earth recovers after inevitable, mutual self-assured destruction, there will be two things left: smoldering rubble and cockroaches. They outlived the dinosaurs; they’ll be here long after you.

Insects are at once simple and complex: sets of multiple eyes and limbs coordinated for a focused mission, hunting and being hunted in the shadows, in the air. Basic bodies and life mechanisms forming energy into movement for eating, mating, moving in their own world, amid our world. Also, they’re kinda creepy, with they way they… you know, creep.

So, here I’ve gathered here some of my recent encounters with the buggy set. For the record: none of these creatures were harmed in the creation of these images/video. Annoyed? Probably. Harmed? No. All images here link to hi-res originals, pre-editing.

Click for full-size unedited raw images

Moths – who knew they were so hairy?

Click for full-size pre-edit raw image

Camel Cricket

Click for hi-res, unedited similar original (not exact original)

Pentatomidae, or Stink Bug

For more inane animal videos, especially of cats, check my YouTube  channel.

Take lots of photos? Consider a removable lens like this one by Photojojo.

What brought me to this were some compelling photos I’d been perusing through Instagram (yep, still obsessed) of insect close-ups and other micro-world views. I started asking folks how they wrung such detail from their iPhones, and was eventually steered to Photojojo’s macro/wide angle attachment lens.

Holy crap, is this thing awesome. Basically, it’s a scaled-down jeweler’s loop that magnetically attaches to your iPhone, droid, or other camera phone, giving a magnified, super-clear view of your subject matter.


Video via blog.clove.co.uk

For the record, I do not work for Photojojo; I’m just an enthusiastic customer. And I’m now enjoying being turned on to a universe of detail I didn’t know existed before getting this gadget. And it’s not just for bugs; this thing opens up a vast dimension of beauty to flowers, textures, or even leaves. There’s a whole new level of minuscule subject matter now available that’s seriously rewarding and enlightening to experience. I had no idea moths were so bushy — now I’m fascinated by them.

Camera phone macro lenses open mini-frontiers with ease, and I encourage anyone with the inclination to pursue some macro photography (and if you or someone you know is of South Asian descent, possibly help out Photojojo founder Amit Gupta, recently diagnosed with acute leukemia). On to the tips…

5 Tips for Great Insect Photos

  1. Get a macro lens. For the price of a good pizza, you’ll get a supremely major upgrade to your gear. They’re easy to use and aren’t just for iPhones. In addition to Photojojo, there are several other possibilities worth considering.
  2. Isolate the subject under a clean glass with a clear sheet of white paper underneath in a well-lit area. But don’t do this so long that you cut off its air supply.
  3. Be at the ready with your finger on the button to snap a photo. Since a bug under a glass generally darts around in a panic, you don’t want to miss out when it finally comes within focus range.
  4. Go hunting in your own yard, sidewalk, or if you’re really brave, the basement. The simple moth I noticed flapping around a light at my door one night turned out to be one of my favorite photo subjects, with fluffy fur and big, deep eyes. Kinda like a teddy bear (OK, maybe that’s a stretch). So grab a glass and get to know your visitors.
  5. Set them free in an advantageous location. If you can return a bug to the wild near something close to its own habitat (dark corner for a spider, bright light for a moth), you’ll be restoring some balance to the universe. Or, at least helping feed the birds. Ah, the cycle of life.
SAVE MONEY: If you purchase one of these lenses from Photojojo, you can save $5 off your order by using this link: http://photojojo.com/r/a389. This also gives me $5 off my next order, too. Thanks. :)
 
What’s your experience with phone camera attachments? Have you ever used a macro lens on a traditional camera? Do bugs creep you out too much to get in their faces for photo ops? What do you think of these (or other) macro photos done with just an iPhone & attached lens? Any tips to share? Tell us in the comments!