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Macro Photography: Leaving Your Comfort Zone
Most photographers have a genre they love and are passionate about. However, as Mark Sisson says, it is nice to try different fields from time to time

When it comes to weather, and particularly the prevailing temperature, there is little doubt that people, especially here in the UK, fall into two very distinct camps: those for whom a long spell of sustained hot weather is simply superb, and those who find it almost instantly unbearable and head for the shade of a tree or even indoors as quickly as they can – for them the wind chill of a winters day is much more preferable.


Preferences in nature photography
I think the same sort of split appears when it comes to preferences in nature photography too. This applies in a number of ways: preferences in what people like to photograph, when they like to photograph, as well as the weather they are happy or prepared to photograph in.

Of course, not all of these preferences are mutually exclusive or a reflection on the photographers themselves; it is pretty hard to undertake macro photography in the wind and rain after all. I guess deep down we all have subjects and circumstances that we like best.


Leaving the comfort zone
With an opening line on temperature it is pretty clear that I have been penning these words during the hot spell of July in the UK this year. It did coincide with a spell in my photographic commitments. Rather than waste the opportunity, I decided to make the most of the good weather and focus on some macro work in the reasonably close vicinity of my home county of Shropshire. Although macro is an area I really enjoy, it is a genre I have to confess to only dipping in and out of. The draw for me into the macro world is usually butterflies, but this year I made a conscious effort to look a little further and take advantage of what has proved to be an excellent summer for orchids, hence this simple Common Spotted Orchid image.

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Technique behind the picture
First of all, I had plenty of time to think about the composition, something nature photography only allows to a certain extent and then instincts and seeing the picture before it happens take over. Did I want a hint of foliage in the background or should I bend it gently out of the way for a clean, black, almost studio style look. I also had time to find an individual stem; this would look nice with the lighting approach I had chosen to work with – an orchid on the edge of the surrounding woodland, lit by the sun, yet a dark shady background offering great contrast. It is a style I had adopted before with other subjects, but the fact that I had some time to ensure the exposure was absolutely spot on would hopefully pay dividends when faced with similar lighting conditions and a more fleeting opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.

The past couple of weeks that have become my photographic focus, have also acted as a bit of a battery re-charge: there has been no real pressure or expectation, even self-induced, in terms of the resultant images so it has been nothing but fun!


Re-learning and experimenting
Therein lies the attraction of the seasonal step outside the comfort zone though – it is a strange combination of learning and re-learning, of experimentation, of time to reflect and consider, and a reminder of what it was like when you were first falling in love with the genre you feel most comfortable with today: I recommend you force yourself to give change a try.


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