Thursday 23 June 2011

The Rise of the Insect Paparazzi

The insect-life of Wanstead is being terrorised. Hordes of photographers (well, me) wait for them outside flowers. They chase them from leaf to leaf, sticking lenses in their faces. Flashes are fired at close range. No insect is safe, it could all come to blows. I would expect to win though, as insects are really small and I'm gigantic.

The reason for this campaign of insect attrition? Well June, obviously, but also the purchase of a new Macro lens a couple of weeks ago, and a determination to bloody well learn how to use a flash. I've been photographing things for about 14 years now. During that time I have owned precisely two flashes, and not known how to use either of them. In need of a challenge, this week I decided I would sort that out. And sod me if it isn't really really difficult. You might think that you stick the flash on top of the camera and fire away, job done. You would be wrong; from my studies this afternoon, it appears that nothing could be further from the truth, and that Canon's flash system, whilst no doubt ingenious in its own way, is a pig to get to grips with.

Practice practice practice, it's just like birding. You can't learn it by reading books or articles, though these are no doubt helpful. You have to get out there and use it, hence the terror. What I will say is this - it has the power to totally transform macro photography. I now understand, or at least am beginning to understand, why some of the ludicrously good macro stuff on the web is as good as it is. I will not bore you with techy details. They are boring, and, well, techy, no getting away from it. And anyway, it is voyage of discovery that I think all budding photographers should take on their own, the better to really learn it. I may crack later and put my thoughts down, but for now what I will say is this though - Get a flash (and USE IT, unlike me) and you will not look back. I can't wait until tomorrow when I can get out there again and start papping. Oh, and buy rechargable batteries.

To a greater or lesser extent, I used flash for all four of the following photos. All were handheld, and of the four subjects, the only one I can name with confidence is the snail (third down). God knows what the final one is, but I think it is part Goldfish. About 3.5mm long, so perhaps a baby Goldfish?

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