Wildlife photography takes on many different forms. The most common type is that epic scene; a lion sitting on a rock during a thrilling lightening storm, a silhouette of elephants walking in a single line at sunset, or of hungry cheetahs chasing down their meal.
Such incredible photos dominate wildlife magazines and photograph competitions. They are what has come to be expected of wildlife shots, especially those coming out of Africa, but if you don’t want to look the same as everyone else when it comes to your personal photography style or if you’ve grown tired of those sorts of images, there is another option that you can experiment with, and that is macro photography.
Getting really up close to your subject is probably not the first thing that you think of when you think about wildlife photography, and that is because most wildlife scenes require you to be quite far away from your subject. When in the bush, animals are almost always going to be seen at a distance, and this is a good thing because it allows you to have enough space to compose a beautiful image.
With macro photography, you are experiencing the exact opposite. You will generally be so close to your subject that composition won’t actually be necessary, at least not so far as the background is concerned.
In its essence, it is a style of photography that focuses on highly detailed close-up shots. Often, such an intricate style of photography is thought to only be done by the more experienced photographer, but with the right gear and the right tips, you too can become a macro photographer.
Macro photography has less to do with how close you are and more to do with the magnification capabilities of your lens. Technically, you can do macro photography with something as simple as a kit lens but know that the result though won’t be as amazing as if you were using a fancier, made for macro lens.
If you are just looking at experimenting, you can get away with playing with your favourite lens and trying to magnify the image as much as possible. This will definitely save you money and give you time to figure out if macro photography is something you are interested in.
With your macro photography, the goal is detail and a razor sharp image. If you are just using an everyday lens, sharpness can be an issue, especially if you are shooting with an aperture of f2.8 or lower. This bigger aperture will also reduce your depth of field which means you can’t add your creative flair.
By using a smaller aperture, from around f4 to f8 or smaller, you can increase the sharpness, bring in more detail and benefit from that depth of field, although you will be sacrificing light, which is a huge necessity when it comes to creating macro images.
When on your African photo safari, while everyone else is bringing out their massive 800mm lenses, you can play with macro photography and really set yourself apart from what everyone else is going. The result will be well-thought out images that are able to showcase a very different side of Africa, and such images could very well be the most memorable of the day’s trip.