Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

When you’re busy trying to focus on a moving bug it’s easy to forget one of the most important aspects of any photograph: composition.

Take the shot here, it’s fairly unremarkable and I didn’t think much of it at the time I shot it, just took a couple of quick snaps and was on my way. I was mainly interested in the colour of the bug but still not that interested since he was rather small (I prefer them a bit bigger). However, when I came home and looked at it in my computer I realized that this is actually quite a good shot. Not because it’s the most interesting bug in the world, not because the light is brilliant – though I think this is one of the cases where the isolation with a black background works really well – instead it’s the composition that makes this photo appealing. It seems to be telling a story; it’s as if the beetle is at the edge of a great abyss, peering down, feeling his way with a tentative antenna. The fact that the antenna is in focus also adds to the success of the image.

In this case I just got lucky but I think it highlights an important point. It’s very easy to get bogged down in other aspects of the process and forget about the most basic and important parts. That’s especially true in a technically difficult field like macro; sometimes you’re happy just getting anything at all in focus, the way some of these critters move around. I really feel that this is an area where there’s a lot of room for improvement, even though I think I’ve already improved since I got started with this.

Just a short post to provide some food for thought.


Looking over the edge of the world


15 Responses to “Something to consider”

  1. forkboy

    I personally find shooting insects, and to a lesser extent wildlife in general, to be a matter whereby focusing on obtaining a tack-sharp image is the best thing. Composition and framing remain important, but I prefer to work on getting the image first and then re-compose in the editing process.

    It’s nice when one can cover all the bases while actually taking the picture, but with bugs and wildlife it just seems like it’s more of a battle to get a sharp image than anything else.

    • Rifqi

      I agree that the image needs to be sharp in order to be good, but sharpness alone is just part of the technical aspect, it doesn’t really add anything to the visual esthetics of the image. To some degree you can alter the composition in post but I never crop my macros so it’s not really an option for me :p

  2. Shelly

    Very nice image – it is so crisp! And as you said the composition is also very nice. Not cropping your macros certainly does add a bit of challenge and pressure in the field to get the composition you want to end up with. I am sure that challenging yourself in this way makes you a better, more keen photographer.

    • Rifqi

      I certainly hope I’m getting better and if I compare my results now to when I got started I do think I’m improving. The crispness comes from using flash and is most clear when there’s not much ambient like here. The only thing that needs to imrpove is the quality of the light but I’m not sure how to achieve that without spending lots of money, though I do have one thing I would like to try when I’m not busy procrastinating :p

      • Shelly

        I wonder, have you considered (or tried) using something like this:


        I am contemplating getting one to see if it helps improve the ambient lighting in the field when doing macro photos (and possibly even portraits). The park where I do a lot of photography is popular among portrait photographers, and I never see the photogs without this little piece of equipment. I figure if it helps light portraits, it would probably work for bugs and flowers too. Anyway, just a thought.

      • Rifqi

        I haven’t tried it but I am planning on getting something like that next time I order flash related stuff. I was planning to use it mainly for portraits and food photography though. Were you thinking of using it together with flash or just ambient light? From a technical standpoint I think it would work well with both but it feels like there could be practical problems. For one thing it might scare the more skittish critters and if you’re using it together with a flash you have a lot of things to juggle while trying to get a shot of something that might not sit still for very long. For flowers and critters that will sit still longer I can definitely see it enhancing the light though.

      • Shelly

        I am not sure whether I would use this with ambient light or a flash. I think it will be a trial-and-error experimentation process. You are right that there are some potential practical/logistical drawbacks when using it for butterflies/insects. But I think that it may be helpful in a back-lit situation to just prop it on the ground or in a position that will bounce light back at the shadowed side of the subject – or where I want the subject to be. Then patiently wait for the butterfly to move to that part of the flower, etc. I’m willing to approach this with the idea that it’s often going to be a little bit hit-or-miss … but isn’t that how it always is with butterflies? 🙂

      • Shelly

        And … if it proves to be completely impractical with butterflies in the field, I think I will still get a lot of good use out of it for other situations.

      • Rifqi

        There’s definitely a lot of useful applications for a reflector so if I were you I would go ahead and get one (I know I will eventually :p). Since you’re more of a gardener than me I’m sure you could set things up for the butterflies as well, maybe bait some flowers after getting the light right.

  3. jonasstenqvist

    Nice! Where do you go looking for insects to shoot? Would also like to know what kind of gear you use for the macro photos? Hej då!

    • Rifqi

      Thanks. I just go outside our flat basically, we’re lucky enough to have some nature around, even though we live not far from the city centre, they’re pretty much everywhere once you start looking for them :p I’m a Nikon shooter so I use a cheap D3000 and their 85mm f3.5 macro lens. I also use a SB-400 flash which I hand hold next to the lens, I think there are only 1 or 2 of my macro shots that are taken without flash.


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