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  1. #31
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darinwc View Post
    Insects: The problem with insects is that we, as humans, have a hard time relating to them. You cant read the emotion on an insect, you cant tell what it is thinking. So when i look at a macro of an insect, i feel nothing. In contrast, when I see a photo of say a lion, I can tell if it is relaxed or ready to pounce.
    YOU don't feel anything when looking at insects, and you therefore conclude that ALL HUMANS have a hard time relating to them. What about everyone who rushed to see "Microcosmos" then? I think you're over-generalizing.

    Oh, and by the way, it's not because something isn't very good that it's not art. Art is a pretty liberal concept. So clamoring for a dearth of macro masterpieces, yes, I could understand that. But it's not for lack of art.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  2. #32

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    Darin, a couple of slightly contrary thoughts:

    Re insects, how about insect pornography? Namely, copulation. Head shots of Mantids. I'm sure they're relatively stupid, but they can look very thoughtful.

    Re fuzz, its the old school of f/64 vs. the pictorialists all over again. Everyone's wrong, me included.

    Re hardships of macro, are you nuts? If you're willing to use an SLR and light with flash and know the trick, nothing is easier. Its a simple trick, too, leaves the photographer with nothing to worry about but focus and composition.

    Re sharp focus, yeah, yeah, yeah, reasonably sharp in the plane of best focus is possible but otherwise there's never enough depth of field. With subjects that have any depth at all good sharpness overall is very hard to achieve.

    Re flat lighting, see my comment above on doing it the easy way.

    High, um, tension can trump fuzz. In '72 I shot a tank of Firemouth Cichlids in the Amsterdam Zoo's aquarium. Not a very close shot, probably at around 1:5. About three pairs of fish, arrayed symmetrically, all in full threat display. Striking image, won prizes, but I'm ashamed that it isn't really sharp anywhere in the frame.

    Cheers,

    Dan

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by darinwc View Post
    . . . You cant read the emotion on an insect, you cant tell what it is thinking . . . .
    Are you sure about that? It does take a bit of practice reading the expression on an insects face. Eventually you'll be able to recognize a little smirk or grin.
    Last edited by DannL; 02-23-2007 at 09:42 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  4. #34
    darinwc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimgalli View Post
    Take a peek at some of the antique toys I've photographed with the big 8X10 Century 9a and Petzval lens on page 3 of my gallery here. Let me know what you think. Those scans are a bit dark but good enough to get the idea accross.
    Jim, to be honest i really wasnt moved by the toy pics. (long explanation cut after rethinking, saved below) I think i would have liked the group of trucks photos better if they werent cropped off on the sides. You are right they are a little dark. The pic of the (real) car had nice lighting and it poped out for me much more than the toys. I liked your shots of the boy on the 4-wheeler much better. (im a proud parent, can you tell =])


    I think mainly because there is no context. I wouldnt know if they were toys or models (or even real cars if I wasnt close to the pic). Is there a difference? Maybee. A toy means that a child played with it at one time. And that gives me warm fuzzies all over. A model means that someone painstakingly etched every detail into it. But without context, any relationship to humanity is implied. Thus it is the viewers experience with the image that dictates the response, and not the subject that communicates to the viewer.
    Last edited by darinwc; 02-21-2007 at 03:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #35
    Anupam Basu's Avatar
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    Insects and emotion!

    Quote Originally Posted by darinwc View Post
    Insects: The problem with insects is that we, as humans, have a hard time relating to them. You cant read the emotion on an insect, you cant tell what it is thinking.
    It is a matter of being able to read certain aspects as denoting certain emotions. Very often we misread them because of our cultural dispositions - dolphins, I am sure, don't "smile" 24/7. My point it that such readings are another set of conventions or language games. As Michel HV pointed out above, it is indeed possible to read insects in such ways. In fact they are so weirdly different that they bring out very unique reactions in the viewer rather than the lion=majestic kind of prepackaged cultural dispositions.

    I started shooting macro when I got my first SLR for two main reasons. First I wanted to learn good technique (and although I see Dan's point it is as rigorous an apprenticeship as any in photography) and I didn't have a car. I didn't have an interest in insects at all. But looking at them close up I have learned to appreciate their behaviour their gestures and habits - to the point that macro photography is the only reason I maintain an extensive 35mm system anymore and the coming of spring has become the most awaited event of the year for me. To be out on a cold morning looking for the little fellas on dewy blades of grass is as exhilarating a photographic experience if not more so than photographing Velvia sunsets with ND grads or creamy smooth long exposure waterfalls. It is really difficult to come up with true originality in any art form and macro is no different than landscapes or portraiture or any other genre.

    As for emotion, that is too subjective to make any general comment on. The fly shot I posted above isn't at all emotionless for me - I worked hard to get the background smooth, to make the fly pop with a reflector (which can be seen reflected in the dew drop) just enough that it captures for me the early morning tranquility that I remember. As I say, it works for me. I have seen a lot of bad macros - but then I have seen a lot of plain bad photography of any kind - it is not something that is inherent in the genre.

    Here's another shot that I tried to capture as I remember it. This little guy spent the night near the base of a log blade of grass and as the sun rose gradually struggled upwards to warm his wings. There is urgency, majesty and drama in the climb for me - to you it may just be a funny looking critter.






    Fuzzy flowers: I am so friggin tired of fuzzy flowers. Well i've never been a fan of abstract art. So I guess i am a little biased. But again, i see a pic of a fuzzy flower and I feel nothing.
    I personally agree with you on this one but I could say the same about a lot of "art" in the gallery :rolleyes:

    Oh, BTW one of the examples posted previously was of a dandelion with one seed left. I liked this very much and it reminds me of my daughters and when I was young.
    There you go - thank you

    If you do not know it, I would highly recommend David Attenborough's series Life in the Undergrowth (along, of course, with Microcosmos mentioned before). It is simply stunning in terms of sheer photographic virtuosity but also in terms of beauty. There is a sequence of mating slugs, in episode III I think, which is the most beautiful, most passionate and most visually poetic sex scene I have ever encountered - and that includes humans! and hollywood's best shots! Now you probably think I am some hopeless insect nut, but do watch it - the smaller majority are beautiful. If we fail to capture that beauty, we need to try harder.

    best,
    -Anupam

  6. #36

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    Anupam, I addressed the purely photographic problems of working close up. They are much more trivial than many of us will admit. Exposure, controlling light, focusing, composing. It isn't quantum mechanics.

    The problems of dealing with live subjects are something else again. In my limited experience, that's where the real difficulties are. With the organisms I've spent much of my life shooting, managing the subjects separates the best workers from mediocrities like me. I used to study their pictures to try to puzzle out how they induced their animals to perform front and center.

  7. #37
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anupam Basu View Post
    There is a sequence of mating slugs, in episode III I think, which is the most beautiful, most passionate and most visually poetic sex scene I have ever encountered - and that includes humans!
    that would be this.


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  8. #38
    Bosaiya's Avatar
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    Might I humbly suggest some of the work from my own Angels and Insects series? They are mostly of insects, however I constantly strive to overcome the unemotional aspects so often found in insect macro photography.

    In the foreword to my new book Dr. Tim Rudman summed it up very well, I think: "Of course, one sees many approaches to recording the insect world through macro photography, but usually done in a factual way and most commonly in colour. Bosaiya’s work is of insects and spiders, but it is not about record photography, it is about a personal world from his imagination."



  9. #39
    Anupam Basu's Avatar
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    I like the series very much - wonderfully original, really. But have a question. Are these insects alive? I assume they are not (at least not all) and that is all right for the purpose of your work which is expressive. But it brings to mind a problem that I want to mention without it being a criticism of your book, which is great.

    Like I mentioned before, I see most insect photography as a continuation of wildlife photography and as Dan mentioned the real challenge of that lies in working with live animals. In other forms of wildlife photography one would very rarely photograph a dead animal without explicitly mentioning it (even passing off a zoo animal as wild would be considered unacceptable). But in macro photography I often see people photographing, dead, pinned or glued down, frozen or anesthetized insects without bothering to mention it. First, the challenge of photographing these creatures live is considerable and secondly, it is often hard to make out whether the specimen is live or not from a cleverly made photograph - but often there are tell-tale signs. Of course if one is photographing specimens for documentation or even otherwise, dead ones are fine (not frozen etc, though, IMHO) but I think one should always mention that.

    Bosaiya, once again, this is not a criticism of your work. I fully realize that photographing a moth in flight with a 4x5 would be a challenge and would not suit what you are trying to achieve here, which is brilliant. This thread has been touching on various aspects of insect photography which don't often get discussed, so I just wanted to bring up this subject of photographing dead insects and passing them off as in the field photography of wildlife.

    Thanks for posting your work,
    Anupam

  10. #40
    Bosaiya's Avatar
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    Hi Anupam, I do understand what you are saying and it's an interesting area of discussion but not something I worry about. I put my work under artistic photography, not documentary.

    First, I do not see my work as an extension or continuation of wildlife photography. In fact I do what I can to distance it from that form of photography as much as possible. Yes, they are photos of animals and to some that will always mean "wildlife photography", but I think that would be unjust to my work. I don't blame people for that view, I think that there is not a lot of non-wildlife photography of animals out there and people are not used to thinking of animals in other ways. I'm hoping to change that in some small way. So while it may be necassary for a documentary photographer to list the details of the photo (I don't know, that's not my area), I don't think it's relevant to artistic, expressive photography.

    Second, I don't ever mention them being alive whereas I do often mention them as being dead. Whenever a publisher allows me to include text about the series I mention that the subjects are mostly all victims of my front porch light. If anyone cares to delve a little deeper into my work there is plenty of text in which I describe the processes involved, both artistic and mechanical, and I try to make it clear that I am working with staged subjects.

    Third, many of my subjects are very obviously dead and worse for the wear. Many are missing pieces, torn and tattered, and otherwise obviously long dead. That some people think the subjects are alive and well is an interpretation that they are making on their own, not based on something I have said. I have had more people ask me how I manage to control a seven foot rail and 40+ lbs of camera gear while chasing after insects in flight than I care to mention.

    We're talking about apples and oranges where macro photography is the subject of fruit.

    Hope that helps.

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