My name is Joshua Coogler, and I am twenty-two years old. I love all kinds of photography, but one of my favorites is macro. I have been doing macro photography for about seven years but only started to get more serious with it in the last two.
I got into photography by borrowing my sister’s old iPod Touch and photographing any bugs I could find; that’s what started my love for macro.
Main Gear Talk
My gear has changed quite a bit over time in becoming more specific in what I want to photograph; my gear reflects what I do. I love using my Mitutoyo 10x objective to get really close to tiny insects, and I love going outside and photographing insects and spiders and exploring their environment.
I don’t carry too much gear when I go out, usually only what I intend to use. If I am going out to do macro, I only bring my macro stuff, so just what I can hold in my hands. It may limit me, but I think it makes the whole experience a lot more relaxing and makes it easier to focus on what I am doing.
Nikon D7500 – I chose this camera because I needed something that was good for different types of photography. I do macro, but I also do wildlife and astrophotography, so I needed something that would take photos quickly when I am photographing animals in action but also something small that was easy to hold for close macro shots.
Nikon 105mm F/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro – I bought this as my first serious macro lens. It’s versatile enough that I can take photos of butterflies flying away while also taking photos of insect faces up close. It’s a great lens if you want a lot of options.
Venus Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5X Ultra Macro Lens – this is my “field” macro lens. I use it when I am outside photographing things such as ants or spiders.
It’s extremely small and easy to hold, and at a maximum magnification of 5x, it’s perfect for some extremely close macro photos. I like to use it when the 10x Mitutoyo is too close, a perfect middle option for prepared insects such as larger ants.
10x Mitutoyo Plan Apo Infinity Corrected Long WD Objective – this last one is my favorite but also the most limiting. This is a microscope objective I use with my camera to photograph the smallest insects I can find, often almost too small to see with the eye. It’s perfect for taking portraits of tiny things like fire ants or mites.
Meike MK-GT620 – combined with the Meike MK-R200, this trigger, and twin flash combo is perfect for macro. The twin flash helps to achieve perfect lighting that would otherwise be different from one single flash. It really helps the subject stand out from the background and illuminates it perfectly.
FotoPro DMM-903s – I use these arms to hold my twin flashes. They let me experiment with the lighting, and I can move it around as I need.
I love how much control I have over the lighting, which I think is one of the most important parts of the image.
USA GEAR TrueShot Camera Strap – I chose this strap because it was inexpensive and very comfortable. It is easy to remove when I don’t need it, and it takes no time to reattach.
It’s just a very easy and comfortable strap to use, especially when I compare it to the old strap my camera came with, which was a lot more difficult to take off, and it also hurt my neck if I used it for too long.
Hardware & Software
For my extreme macro photos, I use a couple of different programs. I use Zerene to stack up the images; some of my photos can be up to three hundred individual images. Zerene combines the in-focus portion of each image.
I then take the output image and process it in Photoshop by usually adding a high pass filter to sharpen, and then I do some basic editing like bringing down the highlights and messing with the tone curve until I am happy with it.
I think that it is so important not to worry about what everyone else is doing with their photography. Do what you want to do.
When I started taking these macro photos, I didn’t know if people would even like them, and I had never seen people photographing ants and mites and all these creepy crawlies.
I love doing it, and I like being able to take a peek into their world.
Focus on what you enjoy doing; even better, if it’s not a type of photography that everyone else does, that just makes it more interesting!