Category Archives: Nature

Articles relating to nature photography

Macro Photography Without a Macro Lens

It has been a long time since I shot a macro image, and in all honesty, I am not a great macro photographer.

In 2017, I sold my macro lens, as I was making changes to my gear lineup, and it was a lens that was rarely used, and did not really suit my wants or needs any more.

However, occasionally arises an opportunity to shoot a pleasing macro image.

Late yesterday afternoon when we were outside in the rear yard, I noticed some appealing water droplets on the garden nasturtium.

The weather lately has been cold, wet, foggy and rainy, and this morning, the glimmer of the water droplets on the leaves presented an opportunity that I did not want to miss.

It can be hard to motivate oneself to pursue photography sometimes, but in this case, the effort level required was minimal.

The problem, however, is that I wanted to shoot a macro image, but I do not have a macro lens.

Despite that, I captured this image:

Morning Dew

Morning Dew

It is not a true macro image, but it is decent enough and pleasing to me.

So, how did I capture this image?

Firstly, I selected my Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM lens.  This is an outstanding telephoto lens I have had for nearly 14 years.  It is tack-sharp, and it has a short minimum focus distance of around 90cm, which makes it ideal for frame-filling images.

It is certainly not a macro lens, but its moderate telephoto focal length, short minimum focus distance and the fact that it is compatible with Canon’s telephoto extenders meant that I could attach it to my Canon Extender EF 2x II to increase the focal length to 270mm and shoot from a close distance relative to that focal length.

While I would have preferred to use an actual macro lens, I was still able to achieve a pleasing image, in which the composition allowed me to depict not only the main water droplet which served as the focal point, but also the surrounding water droplets, which added to the story and created interest beyond just the largest water droplet.

Inspiration does not come along very often; but today it did, and I improvised with my existing equipment, which was sufficient to create a pleasing semi-macro image without having access to an actual macro lens.

Inspiration combined with improvisation can yield pleasing images.

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2020: End of the Road

In my last update about the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2020 competition, I related my experience of having one of my images selected from the Top 101.

Unfortunately, that was the end of the road for me, for this year at least, as my image did not make it into the final selection.

This was the image which was chosen:

Rock Hyraxes

Rock Hyraxes

I never expected to win, and I certainly did not expect to progress as far as I did.

It remains quite an honour to have one of my images make it to the top 101 images of many thousands entered, especially as I do not live in Africa, have only been photographing in Africa since 2012, and was competing against many wildlife photographers far more experienced than I.

Subsequent to the competition, Africa Geographic approached me to seek permission to use two of my images its in-house online banner displays, which are intended to send encouraging messages, request people to support charities, invite them to go on safaris (or, as is the case for now, postpone rather than cancel their safaris).

Normally I do not license my images to other individuals and organisations, but in this case, I made an exception, as Africa has given so much to me, and in these challenging times, we all need to help each other.

After my recent experience with this competition, I intend to have another go at the Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year competition next year.  I certainly have a fair chance.

Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2020: Top 101

In these strange times, there has not been much activity for me photographically, and consequently I have not had anything to report, until now.

Last night, I received an email from Africa Geographic to advise that one of my images, which had earlier been selected for feature in the Weekly Selection in its Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2020 competition, has been selected by the judges to be featured this week in the Top 101.

I was not expecting this.  What it means is that at least one of my images has advanced in the competition, and is now within a smaller pool of images from which the finalists and winner will be chosen.

As always, it is very flattering to receive news like this, and given the extremely high standard of the images which have been featured, it is quite an honour.

Unsurprisingly, my image is not one I would consider my best, but it has twice appealed to the judges.

I am not sure if this is the end of the road for me in this competition, but I have progressed further than I would have imagined possible, and in these dramatic and uncertain times, it is a good feeling.