When you peer through the viewfinder of a macro camera a springtail is no longer just a tiny speck on a leaf. You're peering into a world in which a myriad of life is cohabiting, interacting, reproducing and hunting with mesmeric captivation. For me, the interest comes in the detail. The tiny physical details of the subjects I'm photographing but also the details in habitat, habitus and morphology.
As both entomologist and photographer I'm completely amateur. In fact, for my day job I work mainly at a computer in a sector far removed from nature. Nature photography provides a welcome escape from daily life, provides a huge mental and physical health boosts and allows me to combine two things that I love - nature and photography. Through photography I'm able to share with you the wonders of nature that I find.
Importantly, when taking photographs of any living being my aim is to minimize any stress or disruption that may occur to either creature or habitat. Causing harm or damage to a living organism cannot be justified in the pursuit of a photograph alone. Photographs taken are of live specimens (unless stated), of non-manipulated animals that are usually taken in the situ. I will occasionally capture (for instance spiders) specimins to move to a location to photograph before returning to the location where they were found.
When heading out with the camera I always go prepared. It's important to wear the right clothing, suitable footwear and take plenty of food and water to last the day. Batteries need to be charged and spares packed. Most importantly, perhaps, is the camera gear itself. So, here's what goes in my bag:
I find that having regular locations to visit really helps because you start to learn the environment and different habitats that exist there. However, having a multitude of locations to frequent allows you to widen the number of types of habitat available to you. The more types of habitat you can explore, the more variety of life you are likely to discover. Here are some of the spots I visit regularly throughout the year.Walton Colliery nature park Brockadale nature reserve Seckar wood Lofthouse Colliery nature park Southern Washlands, Wakefield RSPB Fairburn Ings
You don't have to travel far to find an exciting array of fauna and flora. As a break from work, an escape in the evening or an activity for the family, the garden is a great place to explore and has provided many of my favourite finds. It pays to make your garden biodiversity friendly and to encourage nature to thrive there. As well as the garden, I'm often found exploring the many footpaths, urban and green spaces that can be found in our city centre location and you would be amazed how much can be found!
There are load of great sites and social media groups to help with identifying your macro subjects. I find that following likeminded individuals, seeing othter peoples finds and joining discussions is a great way to learn new things about nature.British Arachnological Society UK Spiders Facebook group British Spider Identification Facebook group Bug spotters UK Facebook group Soil Ecology & Macrophotography: Illuminating a hidden world by Frank Ashwood A Chaos of Delight by Andy Murray