Hello PxlEyes members, readers and visitors! Today we are going on a journey in the macro world, guided by Craig Taylor, an exceptional photographer who will unravel for us this amazingly detailed world of insects.
We will stare into those…many many eyes of tiny spiders, we will observe a moth’s trunk and we’ll go “eeew” at the hairy bodies of other insects. All in all, it is fascinating to observe these little beings, and we’re grateful to Craig for his help with this: he combines the passion for photographic art with the scientific part (being an engineer for a living), achieving spectacular results: macros, as well as some light painting shots.
But let’s see what he has to say about this, in the following exclusive interview.
“Zebra Jumping Spider”
Q: Howdy Craig and welcome to the PxlEyes community! Please tell us who the person behind the camera is.
Hola! I am Craig Taylor from Sheffield, England. I work full time as a software engineer, which probably helped out quite a bit with the type of photography I mess around with.
The technicalities of it, are usually enough to put most people off giving it a go, but I guess I am kind of used to it.
I geek out a LOT. It takes up a lot of time and patience, sometimes it takes me a full day or more to create an image, depending on the circumstances of what I am trying to create.
I still feel like I have miles to go in terms of the knowledge and techniques I need to finally produce images I will be satisfied with.
“Zebra Jumping Spider II”
Q: You are definitely a professional! When and how did you start out in photography on such a high level?
Well that depends on your definition of professional. Professionals in their respective fields usually earn a living or at least make money from their skills.
All I ever seem to do is spend money. Photography is expensive enough as a regular hobby, but when you start concentrating on a specific niche, it can get silly.
No matter what new piece of kit I acquire, there is always “the other” bit of gear that I need to go with it. This is one of the things I like about it though.
The images I produce are not influenced by sales or money in any way.
The images are for me to look at and to admire the intricacies of the subject in the best quality I can make at the time and with a look and feel that I find pleasing.
If other people like the images too, then that’s a great bonus. Macro excites some people, it’s always great to see an amazed reaction from someone who has never seen similar images, but for every 1 person interested or involved with macro photography there seems to be a 1000 that are interested in wedding photography or some other genre I find utterly dull.
It must be me that’s the odd one out. You may be surprised to hear that my friends all chipped in to buy my first camera, a superzoom, about 15 months ago.
I still feel like I am climbing the steepest part of a huge learning curve and most of what I have produced is thanks to the macro community out there that have worked on this kind of thing for years and years and are so willing to share.
“White Headed Moth”
Q: We have heard you publish something for National Geographic. Any other big corporations you have collaborated with?
Yeah I was featured in the 2011 National Geographic photo competition. Don’t get too excited though, I didn’t win anything.
In the short amount of time I have been making macro images, only a few opportunities have presented themselves.
I nearly had an image of a bee on the label of a particular brand of honey in the US, that would have actually been worth quite a lot in royalties.
It wasn’t until I pointed out that the bee I had photographed wasn’t a honey producer that it fell through.
Whoops. An image of a moth I created was printed on some lampshades, the things that crop up for me are always bizarre.
“Long Legged Fly”
Q: Why macros?
Why Macros. That’s actually a question I have been asked a lot. I still find it difficult to answer.
I have always liked insects, and when I discovered I could view them in such a way it was quite addictive. So long as it is not too cold, like it is at the moment tut tut.
Any patch of grass or vegetation has something living in there that is truly amazing. Highly evolved and specialised species that pretty much go completely unnoticed.
After I produce an image, I often discover things about the subject that blows my mind. Like spiders breathing through their skin, or looking closely at the tools that biting insects use to tear skin open.
I spend a lot of time on forums and many of them have entomologist members that point things out to me.
I know that there are scientists and researchers that have spent lots of time looking at insects through microscopes.
They only get to see thin slices at a time, there is no easy method for them to see something tiny in full focus with a depth of field that covers the entire insect in full color.
I like knowing that the things I see have been seen in such a way by very few people, and sometimes by nobody ever before.
Q: Please give a little piece of advice for the ones that admire your work and aspire to be like that some day.
I only started doing this 15 months ago. If you find macro genuinely interesting, you may be surprised to hear that you don’t particularly have to spend much money to get started. I have a mini-tutorial on my blog HERE
which shows how you can create similar looking images without spending any more than $450 (£285). I find it to be a very rewarding hobby and I look forward to seeing incredible things in the wild when the new season begins.