Direction Tips

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017

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Angles are a tricky thing to give any meaningful advice on as there really are no sensible guidelines to apply to extreme macro situations beyond the most obvious one, that it's better to look up.

Looking Up

It's just one of those curious things that I always find that the macro shot looking up has a lot more impact than the macro shot looking down. I know most people starting out shooting extreme macro start by following insects around, so shoot down. But if nothing else, try shooting up into the insect at the insect's own eye level. It makes the insect look rather impressive, giving it a grandiose air.

insect from the side

Looking up in your extreme macro image works extremely well for insects.

Another benefit looking up at the insect is that it can help overcome some of the disadvantages of top-down or overhead diffusion. With a diffuser overhead like the horizontal flash setup, a dead giveaway is that there doesn't seem to be too much light reaching the bottom. Shooting up at the insect will minimise this problem to a certain extent, and hopefully let a little light find its way onto the bottom of your insect's face. The photo above doesn't have this problem because I used my Pentax ringflash to illuminate it, which also gives you light from the bottom.

Headon

Headon macro has always worked very well for me and although there's a lot of arranging to do to get your shot in nice symmetry, the end result is usually worth it. Unfortunately there's a fair amount of photoshop cheating with shots like this, and the thing to look for are some subtle signs of asymmetry.

german wasp macro

A headon extreme macro shot, looking straight at the eyes, usually has a lot of impact.

Comments (2)

Article: Angles
Harold Gough says...
As well as shooting from the angle which gives the most photogenic results, you may wish to shoot from several other angles. This is because you may, at some stage, want a name for your subject. It is not always possible to name a species precisely from a photograph, or a series of photographs, but it can often be done. However, the caveat is that the diagnostic features need to be visible, and enough may be visible only by viewing a number of parts of the subject.
17th November 2013 7:08pm
Johan says...
Spot on, Harold. There's a bunch of species for which only certain angles deliver the identifying differential.
17th November 2013 8:54pm
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