Some of the insects I have collected

In pursuit of a bachelors degree in biology, it took one entomology class to get hooked on insects. The class required a collection of multiple insect families. It unlocked an unknown world of animal diversity, color, beauty, and elegance of design.

As a financially struggling student and later in life as a busy adult, the expensive equipment, techniques, and time required for macro photography put it beyond my ability and capacity. I did remain active in my hobby with teaching a few classes to elementary students and being an insect councilor for The Boy Scouts of America.

After raising six kids and battling the corporate world, I now have the time, the advances and abundance in equipment (digital, mirrorless), software and techniques, to pursue the endless possibilities of photography particularly of macro subjects like plants and insects.

Macro photography allows the viewer to see a subject in a way we normally can’t with our eyes alone. Suddenly a common small nondescript black fly turns into a magnificent iridescent creature we have never seen before. It makes us rethink what we see, and look again at the familiar.

Macro photography has required me to experiment with extension tubes, reverse lenses, adapter rings, light diffusers, continuous and flash lighting, backgrounds, focus rails, camera tethering, manual shooting, and others.

Additionally, I have had to develop a much better understanding about sensor size, calculating magnification, step size, effective aperture, diffraction, color temperatures, photo stacking, editing artifacts such as halos, streaks, shutter/flash synchronization and swirls.

Field shooting offers a great variety and spontaneity of images and eliminates some of the creative limits caused from perception or imagination. There are extraordinary images from field macro photographers who have great patience and skill. The same is said of the studio photographers where the unexpected is often captured when you are not looking for it and didn't know that it could even exist.

My interest with macro and close up photography drew me towards studio versus field macro. When it is 115°F (46°C) in the deserts of Arizona, it is unappealing and not very safe to leave the air conditioned house to maybe see an insect I can photograph. Even the insects hide from the heat. Due to my patience level, and the type of photo stacking I desire, I mostly collect insects to later prepare them for photography in the comfort and safety of my office/studio where I have control over time, temperature, lighting, background and composition. Stacking photos takes rock steady platforms and absolutely no movement over several minutes which I find impossible for me in the field. I routinely take 100 images of the same specimen for photo stacking in studio, to capture small details. It's the old philosophical questions of, If the tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? I continue to create stack images in studio because if the image is never created in the field it will never be seen.