Today I would like to tell you the story of how I stumbled upon my best macro shot so far this year. It’s a story that starts on a day home alone with some pink chalk – yes, you read that right.
You might be asking yourself what on earth pink chalk has to do with macro photography and if you settle down I’ll tell you. I’ve been thinking about trying out some more artificial backgrounds for my macros and did a couple of tests with a plain white one that I didn’t really like. It just felt that it lacked colour, so that’s what I wanted to add. I didn’t have any coloured paper but my daughter has some coloured chalk that I used to DIY:ed my own coloured paper, just rub it in with some water to make it stick better – I’m very creative, I know. Background done, I went out to hunt.
As usual the weather wasn’t the best (surprise) so I couldn’t find many bugs that were willing to pose for me. I tried my background on a couple of the few who did but, while I do like the details of the fly to the left, nothing really worked as a whole. Just getting detailed closeups of bugs isn’t enough for me anymore, I want photos that work on every level. So I kept looking.
After just over an hour without decent results I decided to just pick a couple of flowers so I could at least try the background on something. I got myself one yellow and one white flower and went to find a good rock to sit down on. As I put the flowers down on the rock I spotted a spider in some tall grass – I finally thought I had found the winner. I put the paper on the rock so I could use my hand to hold the grass and started shooting. I wasn’t thrilled by the results (see below), I just couldn’t get a good composition. When I finally did get the critter in a good position it fell off the grass and scurried away.
I muttered some well chosen words after the spider and returned to my flowers just in time to see a small ant taking an interest in one of them. With some delicate maneuvering I got the ant to stay on the flower as I picked it up. Flower in one hand and camera resting on my knee, I started shooting again. The ant didn’t really want to be on the flower so it kept running around in an attempt to find a way down, which made it a bit tricky to focus, especially while making sure the composition was good as well (the subject is a bit too centered for my taste in the final frame). Finally I got the shot you see at the top of this post (also make sure you check the large version by clicking the thumbnail at the bottom), with both focus and the ant’s pose nailed in the same frame. The fact that the ant has caught some tiny critter just adds even more awesomeness to it.
What can we learn from this story? Don’t give up, keep trying and maybe, just when you’re about to call it a day, you’ll run into a real keeper. Also, pink chalk can be very useful.