Macro Madness

Macro Madness (It's a Small World), by Allan Squires

On this second night of the season, we welcomed a lot of new-comers and had a good attendance for a presentation about macro photography.

Allan Squires was our presenter, focussing on his passion for this intriguing, technical and sometimes challenging work.

To start, Allan, gave a quick run through some of the equipment he uses, including a fast camera (10 frames per second), some well used flash diffusers, extension rings, a less-than-usfull double flash holder and a homemade ring flash diffuser! A real mixture, form top price to bargain basement! You don’t need to spend a fortune to produce good results.

The first half of the presentation drew us into Allan's miniature world of dragonflies and spiders. With some lovely, detailed images of this almost alien universe, we discovered the colour, nature and structure of insects, and even that spiders can spin multiple threads, like a fine sheet of silk, to wrap their prey!

Advice for this kind of photography centred around patience, the study of the subject and its habits and taking advantage of both natural and artificial light. Beware of unwanted light reflections! Stacking is also a very useful tool, if the subject is still for long enough! This is a technique where multiple images are taken, with incrementally increasing (or decreasing) focal lengths, and merged using software like Photoshop to reduce or eliminate the poor depth of field typical of close up and macro photos.

After tea, served with great efficiency and a friendly smile at the bowling club bar, Allan’s interpretation of “macro” took on a whole, new meaning! I’m not even sure I know how to describe the images he managed to produce with milk, coloured dye, electronic valves, flash lights, a speaker, a latex balloon and an awful lot of patience!

The results are remarkable and, sometimes, astonishing! Falling drops of liquid collide and are caught by the camera, frozen whilst hitting each other, a surface and other liquids, to produce glittering crowns, swirling parasols and delicate, glassy plumes, bells and vases. Flowers, mushrooms, flamingos and more, appeared like magic! Then, just when we were getting used to these, we were introduced to coloured paint and washers, leaping from latex stretched and vibrating on a speaker, to form bright spires, tangled blobs and spouts, red cones inside wheels of blue, spiral limbed trees and even multi coloured DNA!

All these images where produced indoors, in the dark, with the camera set at “Bulb” (the shutter staying open as long as the button is pressed) and the flash synchronised with the dropping, spouting and vibrating liquids. I can only say they are extraordinary!

Thank you very much to Allan, for a real "eye opening” and entertaining evening.

Next week we have an internal Q&A evening. If you’ve ever wondered what that button is on your camera, how to take a long exposure image, what “Depth of Field” and “F stop” means - or anything else photography related, bring your questions and or equipment along. Also, if you know the answers to any such questions, bring your knowledge and equipment along!

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