Monday, September 22, 2014

Macro photography should not be just a club for technique jocks

Defining macro photography as requiring 1:1 and greater magnification is rather absurd. Few currently macro lenses go above 1:1 and many older lenses only go to 1:2. Do we exclude older lenses and only allow current macro lenses when they are used at their minimum focus distance? Do we require that additional equipment such as extension tubes, bellows, additional lenses be used with a regular macro lens to make it legitimately macro photography?

It seems more reasonable to define macro photography as taking pictures of small objects close up to reveal detail that can't be seen with the naked eye.

I believe there are two quite different kinds of macro photography:

- Still life style pictures of plants and dead or immobilized insects in a controlled environment . (and stamps and coins.) The subject will stay put as long as the photographer needs to get the exact picture that he wants. The environment allows him to use all the equipment for lighting the subject and holding it is place. Getting greater than 1:1 magnification is feasible but it requires skill and good gear. This sort of photography attracts people who want to demonstrate their skill in mastering difficulties. Their discussions focus of technique with harsh criticism of those who post less than perfect images. Arguments about the only correct way to do macro photography break out easily and quickly descend into name calling.

- Nature photography of living plants and insects in uncontrolled outdoor environments. At any moment, a breeze may move a flower out of focus or even out of the frame. An insect may light on a flower, be there for a few seconds and the leave. The emphasis is on getting a photo of the subject while the opportunity exists. Setup for a photo has to be minimal. Carrying extra gear for lighting or holding the subject in place may be impractical. Magnification greater than 1:1 is often infeasible. The emphasis is on capturing a record of what the photographer encounters for the love of the subject matter. The joy is in capturing interesting subjects rather than in a demonstration of skill. Discussions among such photographers focus on the subject matter rather than on critiques of technique.

Technique jocks who practice the Still life sort of macro photography seem unwilling to accept the other kind of photography. On some photography forums, they drive off anyone who posts photos that don't fit the greater than 1:1 criteria. The result is that nature photographers have no place to discuss their concerns and their photos on many photography forums.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Old guy interests

I'm a bit sad that several of my interests (audio gear, camera gear and sports cars) acquired a long time ago increasingly look like old guy interests. And I'm disgusted by the rich guy/conspicuous consumption aspect to those interests.

Gear head hobbies now seem sterile to me and gearhead forums seem populated by people I'd rather not know. However, listening to good music, looking at pictures of subjects I value and driving on winding, country roads are still rewarding activities for me. Those interests attract positive, interesting people.