Return To Blog 22 October 2014

5 Tips: Bryce McQuillan

Macro & wildlife photographer Bryce McQuillan details 5 quick tips to help you get the most out of shooting in macro!

1. It is best to shoot in manual mode.  Find the subject then slowly move yourself forward and back until you get a sharp shot.  If you try to use your lens on auto mode it will hunt a lot when you are getting closer to your subject, resulting in a lot of missed shots.

2. Being patient, taking your time and going slowly is the best way. Sometimes just sitting in a field of long grass for a little while can turn up all sorts of wonders.  Often, you could be photographing a flower among the grass and then notice a small beetle crawl out of it, and switch to photographing that.  Sometimes you don’t notice there was a certain bug in your photo until you get home, and that can inspire you to go back out tomorrow.

3. It is beneficial to use flash diffusers for macro photography. They help to soften the light and reduce unwanted reflections.  There are many types of diffusers.  For pop-up camera flashes, a lens diffuser at the end of the lens, which is curved towards the subject, will offer the best light.  The best way to get ideas for diffusers is by asking Google. Having a speed light off-camera can give you more flexibility with lighting.  This allows you to get light on the subject from different angles, instead of just having pop-up or on-camera flashes.  Using light from different angles can add a more dramatic feel to an image.

4. Going out with suitable clothing and footwear can make a huge difference in how long you will stay out for, particularly at night.  A good pair of waterproof over-trousers is key equipment for me.  This is because I tend to spend a lot of time crawling around on the ground looking for bugs.

5. The most important thing to remember when setting off on a macro shoot, as many other photographers will also stress, is making sure you have charged batteries and plenty of spare SD/CF cards.  Nowadays, I’ll often have two camera batteries on me at all times, two SD cards and at least four sets of charged rechargeable batteries. The best times of day for shooting bugs tend to be morning and late afternoon.  As during the middle of the day the heat is too intense for most invertebrates.  Also when the sun is overhead, lighting the subject is difficult because harsh shadows and reflections occur.  I personally love shooting at night because there are so many different insects out then.

The most common question I get asked is… How did you get so good at taking bug photos?  I reply saying, “practice, practice, and more practice!”  I really can’t stress that anymore, if you want to get better at something then you need to get out and do it more, try adjusting your gear, settings, diffuser and keep on enjoying the beauty you can capture!


Find out more about Bryce & his photography in his Snapshots entry, as well as following him on Facebook or via his website.