Macro with Marliese

© Chris Calverley - macro of praying mantis
Chris Calverley got this great image of a praying mantis

Lots of our members said in the past that they wanted to have a go at macro and close-up photography, particularly featuring ‘live’ subjects, such as insects.

You’ll not be too surprised to hear that among the things you need to do that are 1) a macro facility for your camera, be it a macro lens, extension tubes, reversing ring or bellows, and 2) live insects!

Equally unsurprisingly, it’s usually the latter that cause the most problems – insects have the knack of either not cooperating or of crawling or flying away just as you fire the shutter.

So, we asked Marlies Chell, of Arnold and District Camera Club, to come to the rescue!

Marlies has a passion for macro and says she’s always had a lot of creatures around: “I’m fascinated by being able to see what you can’t see with the naked eye… so I love to see it on the screen and all the detail.”

Marlies says you don’t need lots of equipment to do macro – in fact, bridge cameras work really well: “You can take amazing macro pictures with a bridge camera – the depth of field they give is fantastic. In fact, the first competition I entered, I took a picture of a millipede and the judge commented that the photographer must have had a really good macro lens. During the coffee break, I quietly mentioned to him that I’d used a little compact camera – and he was amazed!”

So, for our June meeting, Marlies came along to Ockbrook, escorted by numerous insects.

Thankfully, the insects – including stick insects (big chunky ones!) and praying mantis – were all of the type that don’t care to move very fast, so the chances of them making a quick bid for freedom were almost nil. They also had the advantage of not being able to fly.

Marlies was on hand to help members with their settings and composition

Thankfully, Marlies has been doing this for around 13 years and so brought a number of backgrounds, twigs, and leaves along to make the insects feel at home, as well as some lights.

She set them up on tables, gave us a briefing and, armed with tripods, cameras and enthusiasm, away we went!

Of course, Marlies was an hand throughout the session to offer advice on angles, positioning the insects, how to handle them, lighting, technique and camera settings.

And needless to say, the members were pretty impressed with some of the results!


Here are Marlies’s top three tips for macro…

  1. Use a tripod – give yourself the best chance of getting a sharp shot!
  2. Use a cable release or your camera’s two-second timer to help minimise camera movement
  3. Make sure you have good lighting. This should give you a decent shutter speed (insects don’t always keep their head’s still!) and will help isolate the creature from the background.

We’ll bring you more results from the evening soon!





3 Comments Add yours

  1. marrow56 says:

    Excellent summary of a great evening. Thanks to Linda for organising.


  2. I am in love with macro photos. I do a lot of flowers, but also love bugs! And yes, they are hard to capture, but I’ve had some success with my macro lens just out in nature. I’ve taken a lot of bee photos. I want to learn more, I am still learning. Love these photos!


    1. Mick Govan says:

      Pleased you enjoyed them Lisa.

      Liked by 1 person

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