Wide angle macro

Sylvan katydid (Schedocentrus basalis) from Suriname in her natural habitat [Canon 7D, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, Canon 580 EXII speedlight]
Although I consider myself primarily a macro photographer, my favorite lenses are not those designed for macrophotography, but rather those that are used chiefly for landscapes and other large subjects. I am talking of course about wide angle lenses, which means lenses of the focal length shorter than 50mm. Many photographers are surprised to discover that wide angle lenses can often focus closer than many other lenses, including those branded as close-up ones. This allows them to fill most of the frame with relatively very small objects, while still showing a large portion of the objects’ background, which makes them ideal for intimate, life-like nature photography of insects and other small organisms.

I will not pretend that this is the easiest, technically, approach to photographing nature, but it is one that is extremely rewarding, and one that can result in imagery that is unique and striking. I will be devoting many future posts to wide angle macrophotography, and will talk about my favorite lenses, their benefits and drawbacks, approaches to proper lighting in wide angle macro and, most importantly, dealing with animal subjects in an effective and ethical manner.

This photo of a female sylvan katydid (Schedocentrus basalis) was taken in a lowland rainforest of Suriname. I wanted to capture in it not only the animal herself, but also her habitat, and thus I used the widest lens I had at the time, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye, mounted on a Canon 7D. This lens can focus as close as 5.9″ (14.99 cm), but I moved in even closer, knowing that if the aperture is stopped down to f22 then nearly everything in front of the lens would be in focus.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Kurt says:

    Love the wide angle macro. Ever since I saw them in “The Smaller Majortiy”, I have been wanting to do this but am not sure what lens(es) are suitable for my crop sensor (40D). Any other affordable lenses you can recommend besides the Sigma 15mm F2.8? Thanks!

  2. M. Barton says:

    I’m really excited to find your blog! I’m starting to think this is my favorite kind of macro photography, and I hope to learn more about it. Your photos are stunning.

  3. Very nice – sharper than I would have expected. The use of wide angle and their great depth-of-field is well known to UW photographers where it is a real problem accurately estimating distance and where you want to get as close as possible to minimize light loss and floating stuff in the water (“snow”). I’ve played with close-up wide angle macro photography before, but usually with an extension tube and less than epic results. I’ll have to try some more!

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