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Equipment & Ethics

Equipment for Macro Photos.

Up until 2017, I was using a classic macro set-up: A Nikon full-frame and a Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 or Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4 macro lenses with occasional use of a Raynox close-up filter.

My first digital camera was a Nikon 990 which was a wonderful, compact camera that allowed the user to swivel the lens half of the body into all sorts of positions while viewing the subject and managing the shot from the screen (which was on the other half). Using the 990 helped me find my style of getting low & Eye-To-Eye with critters instead of being locked into a typical viewfinder perspective.

Prior to that, I used my Dad’s Olympus film camera & Tamron 90mm macro lens.  Both my Mom & Dad instilled a love for nature & nature photography.

Today, I’ve returned to my Olympus roots for macro & use that favorite combination of many other macro photographers: An Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II micro four thirds system with the M. Zuiko 60mm f/2.8 macro lens.

I use flash (TT350o Godox) for most of my shots and diffuse the light with a homemade, flash mounted contraption that I tinker with in an ongoing effort to obtain ideal lighting.

I import my photos to Lightroom where I make minor adjustments. The Olympus system combined with  Lightroom color profiles does such an amazing job of rendering color that most of my tweaks are to do with the shadows or highlights & minor cropping. If you are thinking about macro in the field (as opposed to studio), I’d recommend the Olympus set up: the camera is small and a lot easier to handle than a full-frame DSLR when shooting insects who are often hiding in brush or among leafy areas.

Equipment for Non-macro Photos.

For birds and other larger critters, landscapes, & street photography, I prefer my Nikon full-frame D750 because the background (bokeh) is so much more pleasing than the backgrounds produced by the micro four thirds system. For wildlife, I use the Nikkor 300mm f/4 or the 200mm f/4 macro. For landscapes & street photography, I primarily use the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8.

Ethics.

Every year I see more photographers discussing the ethics of wildlife photography, and I hope this trend continues.

Some of this concern comes from the stories we read about guide services using live bait to make sure their clients get those perfect raptor shots.

We hear about photographers who have disturbed nesting birds, posed frogs on the noses of alligators, or chilled insects and then photographed them in light boxes.

Often, there is collateral damage from these activities, and the animals we claim to love suffer.

My goal is to "do no harm & leave no trace" and I, therefore, spend a little time before I  take a photograph to think about how my activity might affect -- & specifically might endanger -- the subject.  If I think it will endanger the subject, I pass on taking the shot.

Will I spook it into jumping into the clutches of a predator? Will it fall off & lose access to its only host plant? If I move a leaf, will I reveal its hiding place to a predator?  If I snip off a leaf, are there eggs or nymphs that are now doomed?  If I hike at night without looking at the ground in front of me, will I step on salamanders who are hunting on the path? These are all real examples and taking these considerations into account adds to the satisfaction I feel when I get a good shot.



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