I specialise in macro photography because it fascinates me. It offers an insight into a magical world that is hidden in plain sight and I think there is nothing greater than heading into my local woodlands with my camera and getting lost in it for hours. Being able to see the unseeable and capture highly detailed images of small creatures and plants is awesome. I want people to see the beauty that these beings possess and hopefully inspire them to take greater care of these fantastic and very important creatures.
Recently, I took the OM-D E-M1 Mark III to the Amazon rainforest. The challenging conditions and rich biodiversity make it a great location to put the camera to the test. As I had never been on a trip like that before, it was going to be quite the adventure.
I discovered this stunning anoles lizard sitting on a log. Worried that I would scare it away, I chose to use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens. With its close focus capabilities, it almost doubles up as a macro lens whilst maintaining a great working distance. I worried that the low levels of light could make things tricky for exposure and focusing, but after finding my composition, I placed the smallest autofocus point over the eye and the E-M1 Mark III locked on right away — even in this low light.
After it became clear that the lizard was comfortable, I decided to switch to my M.Zuiko ED 60mm F2.8 Macro lens and my diffused FL900R flash to shoot shot and in-camera stack to gain extra depth of field. The challenge when focus stacking without a tripod is maintaining alignment for each frame. In this case, the 5-axis stabiliser sure helps a lot!
Sometimes natural framing allows us to capture interesting pictures, like this beautiful grasshopper peeking at me through a leaf. In that case, any small movement of the camera drastically changes how the picture will look. Shooting handheld gives me the absolute freedom to explore different viewpoints and make small adjustments to my shooting angles. Having so many small and accurate autofocus points to choose from, makes finding my subjects an easy task.
During a canoe trip to the flooded forest, we found a caiman crocodile submerged in the black waters. I was super excited! To gain extra reach, I added the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC‑14 to my 40-150mm lens. By using the flip-out screen, I was able to hold the camera over the edge of the canoe to focus on the eye. The built-in image stabilisation enabled me to capture this image at 1/25, which usually would not be possible at 420mm. Amazing!
Sometimes, when a subject is so small that even a macro lens does not provide enough magnification for us to see them in all their glory, I add extension tubes. That is how I captured the spider with its adorable eyes. I just love to photograph jumping spiders! At high magnifications, I focus by moving the camera small amounts until the eyes are sharp. The OLED viewfinder on the E-M1 Mark III is contrasty and clear — making focusing much easier than on previous cameras I have used.
In the past, filming the macro world was always a challenge for me. Camera shake at high magnifications is far more noticeable in video. But because I like to travel as light as possible, there is very little room for a tripod. The E-M1 Mark III solved this video dilemma for me with the 120fps slow-motion feature. Being able to shoot stills and then quickly record something interesting, opened up a new way for me to capture the lives of these amazing creatures.
Author & Photographer: Geraint Radford