Here’s a Special Request this Week by Stephanie Adams.

Goldenrod Crab Spider Cross Polarized Macro by Steve Troletti

Goldenrod Crab Spider Cross Polarized Macro by Steve Troletti

I’ve shied away from Macro in the past although Jeremy Brooks had quite a few Macro Photo Challenges in his days as a Photo Challenge Contributor. One of those reasons was that Macro was more of a specialty and not everyone has a Macro Lens, which can be expensive.

This is why I’m making this challenge a MACRO / CLOSE-UP Photo Challenge in the hopes of accommodating everyone in the Photo Challenge Community.

In simple definition, Macro is the art of photographing a small subject in a ratio of at least 1:1 making it as big or bigger than real life.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Caterpillars, Worms, Larvae, etc... &emdash; Caterpillar / Chenille

Caterpillar by Steve Troletti

Macro has its challenges. One of which is a shallower depth of field. This will need to be used to your advantage in isolating the important parts of your subject.

I use one of 2 lenses for macro. The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G for its portability and creative shootings and even portraits on a Full-Frame Body. I also use the AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D IF-ED for its sharpness and magnification. It also has a good working distance when photographing such beasts as the Dark Fishing Spider.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Arachnids / Arachnides / Arachnida &emdash;

Dark Fishing Spider with egg sack (Dolomedes tenebrosus) by Steve Troletti

There are also options to better the magnification ratio of your Macro Lens or of a regular lens.

Extension Tubes

Close-up Macro Filters

Reversed Lens on your camera, Macro Lens or Telephoto Lens

There’s also the Bellows for Macro

Although the proper Bellows setup can give incredible results, I prefer using extension tubes, that’s a preference due to my work style. Optical close-up filters have come a long way. Glass manufacturing processes have evolved greatly and at a reduced price. You still lose some optical quality but with the better filters you aren’t plagued with the huge fringing problems from the old days. Reversing lenses directly on your camera will necessitate adapters. I’ve used them and yes you can get some incredible close-ups. However your working distance is greatly reduced and so is your depth of field. A great scenario for studio work and focus stacking.

Since I’m an editorial photographer and I specialize in Ethical Nature and Wildlife Photography, I’ll focus on this aspect of Macro Photography. For this Photo Challenge you will be free to photograph whatever you want to get up close to.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Caterpillars, Worms, Larvae, etc... &emdash; Parasitized Sphingidae caterpillar - Cross Polarized Macro

Parasitized Sphingidae caterpillar – Cross Polarized Macro by Steve Troletti

One lighting technique I use for Macro Photography is Cross Polarization. In a nutshell I polarize the light from my flashes and set a circular polarizer on my lens. If I’m set for Horizontal Polarization on my light source, I set the lens for Vertical Polarization, thus crossed. The end result is an elimination of glare creating a different texture and revealing lots of sometimes unseen details. If you’re interested in creating Cross Polarized Macros for this Photo Challenge, I invite you to read one of my older challenges.


Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Flowers, Plants and Trees /Fleurs, plantes et arbres &emdash; Allium fistulosum - Welsh onion about to flower

Allium fistulosum – Welsh onion about to flower by Steve Troletti

Tools you may need to complete your challenge

A telephoto support bracket

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: blog-images &emdash; Polarized Gels mounted to Vello diffusers

Macro Setup with Polarized Gels on Flash and Filter on Lens

If you use extension tubes or a combination of lenses with a reverse mounted lens, you may want to alleviate the weight of those lenses from your camera bayonet. It’s also useful to keep everything inline and secured when using extension tubes.

A Macro Rail

Macro rails are a great way to fine-tune your distance and focus on your subject. They are also very useful for capturing images for focus stacking as they give you precise control over your front / back movement. It’s especially useful on the Nikon 105mm VR as image size changes with focus due to focus breathing.

Here’s a little video on focus breathing.

Light Diffusers and Reflectors

I use diffusers to help soften the harsh midday light on my subject. I also use reflectors to open up shadows. When working with Macro, they don’t have to be all that big. An 8-to-12-inch reflector and diffuser should be big enough for normal everyday use. They can, however, scare insects and spiders as you move them around.

A Right Angle Viewfinder

When your camera is low to the ground, it’s one of the best ways to get to your viewfinder. However with newer cameras and flip screens they are less useful as they used to be. I tend to use the app QDSLR-DASHBOARD to view and control my camera from my smartphone which has now made my use of the right angle viewfinder obsolete. I wrote a small article about these in the past – https://photos.tempusaura.com/blog/2014/12/Seagull-Right-Angle-Viewfinder-90-Degree-Review

Macro Flashes and Brackets

There are dedicated flashes for use in Macro Photography. However there are plenty of DIY tutorials online for building diffusers and brackets to bring your existing flash out on a Macro Photography Excursion. GOOGLE SEARCH

Clips and various hardware

I use Nikon’s Macro Clips and other little brackets and sticks to keep plants stable or hold branches and vegetation out of the way while photographing. Please take care in not destroying vegetation or killing living bugs for the sake of a photograph. It may sound petty but with thousands of photographers venturing out in natural habitats, the behavior eventually has an impact on our natural heritage.

A Tripod or Monopod

Depending on your gear and your style of shooting, you may want to keep everything stable with a Tripod or Monopod. Remember that Lens Stabilization systems don’t usually work well up-close. The more light you have the less stable you need to be. Flashes are great as they can freeze action and compensate for movement.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Glasswing - Greta Oto (Papillon / Butterfly)

Glasswing – Greta Oto Butterfly by Steve Troletti

Use Common Sense and Read Up on Your Natural Habitat

Now more than ever Ticks and Mosquitos can infect you. I’m not a promoter of DEET so I use repellents that are Essential Oil Based. There are some commercially available ones and you can also make your own. Remember DEET can affect Goretex and Plastics.

There are also many plants and other living creatures that can be harmful such as Black Widow Spiders, Rattlesnakes, Ants, Bees, Hornets, Poison Oak, Poison Ivy, Hogweed and so much more. Please use the necessary precautions and get the information you need before going out.

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Insects / Insectes / Insecta &emdash; Bee / Abeille / Biene / Ape

Bee by Steve Troletti

Proper Shoes and Clothing

Light-colored clothing will allow you to better spot ticks and other insects that have hitched a ride on you. The proper clothing can also protect you from the sun and mosquitos. Even more important, wear the appropriate shoes for the terrain you will venture upon. Every year I hear of someone falling down a small embankment because they were wearing Croc sandals on wet grass. Same with high cliffs and wet rocks. Your local sporting goods and outdoor store can help you choose the right gear for your outings.

Be Careful and Have Fun 🙂

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Butterflies / Papillons &emdash; Butterfly Eggs / Oeufs de Papillon

Butterfly Eggs by Steve Troletti

Not all macro images are easy to achieve even when they look simple enough. Sometimes your subjects find themselves in dark wooded areas and creativity will need to kick in. This is when a second pair of hands and some flashes and reflectors can really come in handy. This post will give you insight as to how much energy may need to be invested to capture the image below. (READ ARTICLE)

Steve Troletti Editorial, Nature and Wildlife Photographer: Caterpillars, Worms, Larvae, etc... &emdash; Caterpillar

To Complete Your Challenge

You are free to select a Macro or Close-Up subject of your choice. Concentrate on your background and your composition. When creating a photograph, attempt to capture a scene with balanced light and sharpness on the subject where it counts. All of the techniques we’ve applied in the last year will help you achieve a great image.

The friendly community guidelines are pretty simple:

  • Post one original photograph (Your Image) shot each week per theme posted on this blog to our active community on our Facebook GroupFlickr Groupor 500PX group (or all three). Tag the photo:  #10thanniversaryphotochallenge #2018photochallenge #photochallenge #tempusaura
  • The shot should be a new shot you took for the current weekly theme, not something from your back catalog or someone else’s image.
  • Don’t leave home without your camera. Participating in the 2018 Trevor Carpenter Photo Challenge is fun and easy.

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About Steve Troletti

I'm a Location Scout, Editorial, Nature, Wildlife and Environmental Photographer based in Malibu, California. I specialize in Nature and Urban Nature photography including Infrared Landscapes. The Bulk of my work takes place in the Los Angeles, California area, Greater Montreal Region, Canada, Switzerland, France and Varese in Northern Italy. Ethical wildlife photography is the main priority and focus of my work. A minimum disturbance of the animals, their habitat and the environment is my top priority. This applies as much to total wilderness areas as it does to urban nature environments. Ongoing education of environmental issues and building awareness for the protection of wildlife and wilderness areas around the world is what drives me to document the beauty that surrounds us.