Macro Marvel by Peiling Lee

6/4/2012 5:47:46 PM

We've said it before and we'll say it again: you dont need High-End equipmentto capture incredible imagery. Malaysian Peiling Lee is yet another photographerto provethis with her superb macro series: 'a small small world'.

Description: Description: Macro Photographs by Lee Peiling

Many photographers yearn after the latest gizmos, higher specifications and the next best thing in the imaging market, but you really don't have to spend a fortune to get top-quality results. Living in Tanzania, east Africa, Peiling has to make the most of what limited resources she can gather, but instead of it being a hindrance, it has simply meant she's had to find more creative solutions.

Description: Description: Macro Photographs by Lee Peiling

Optics play a major role in determining the level of image quality, which is why Peiling uses a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L USM IS Macro lens, paired with a mid-range Canon EOS 50D and Nissin flashguns. All her scenes are created from scratch with subjects and props like grass, flowers and potatoes collected from her home or garden. "I shoot most of my macro work indoors as it gives me more control over the scene and the set-up, enabling me to better translate my imagination into images. Doing it this way makes me feel like I create my pictures, not just capture them."

Description: Description: Macro Photographs by Lee Peiling

While she manages to control the environment, working with such uncooperative little critters is trickier. "Despite insects being difficult subjects, the praying mantis is one of the easiest species to work with as they move so slowly. They're also very sensitive to light and sound, so they’ll often look at the camera as it focuses or the on-camera flash when it fires. Timing is very important with these types of shots as when a mantis looks away, they can be very stubborn. You have to talk, even sing, to them - whatever it takes to get their attention so they turn to face you."


Description: Description: Macro Photographs by Lee Peiling

What makes Peiling's images so mesmerising is the soft focus, vibrant colours and specular bokeh, created by nothing more than backlit sheets of coloured plastic, a wide aperture and a dusting with a water spray. "I mainly use f/2.8 to get the bokeh, but it can make focusing tricky; especially if a subject moves. It's not so much of a problem with a praying mantis, but as ants are a lot faster I have to find a balance between depth-of-field, soft light and a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the movement. The background is usually colourful sheets of plastic that I have found in stationery stores matching the material I collect from my garden. I place it about two feet behind the subject, backlit by a table lamp, then position a Nissin flashgun with softbox to my left, pointing 45° at the camera. Once the actor or actress is settled, I spray the water and fire the flash. As long as the flash is at the right angle and the timing is spot on for freezing droplets as they fall, you'll get beautiful bokeh.

"When using flash, I set it to manual and the lowest power, but even then it's often too strong. To help diffuse both the Nissin and integral flash, I layer material to cut down the light: paper, cotton, white plastic bags - anything to make the light softer. I also angle myself differently depending on the subject. For instance, as ants are small, I angle the camera upwards to make them look larger. Whereas a praying mantis is shot from eye level for better eye contact."

After returning her subjects to where they came from, Peiling goes about processing her Raw files, but even this only consists of minor adjustments to the brightness. White Balance and colour in Photoshop. It's quite the testament to what you can achieve with basic kit, some creative ingenuity and solid photographic technique. So, if you are the type of photographer who goes weak at the knees at the mention of megapixels, guide numbers or new gadgets, why not take a lead from Peiling Lee and place the technique over the tech for a while to see what you can come up with?

  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 6) - Fungi
  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 5) - Creative blur
  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 4) - Viewpoint
  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 3) - Flowers, Depth-of-field & Lighting
  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 2) - Len accessories, Lighting aids, Tripods and alternative camera supports
  •  Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 1)
  •  Epic Moments in Sports (Part 2)
  •  Epic Moments in Sports (Part 1)
  •  Hanns.G HL272 27” LED display
  •  PhotoDirector 3 - Gets snap happy
  •  Microsoft Sued Comet For Making 94,000 Copies Of Counterfeit Windows
  •  TV Became Smarter & Friendlier : Ubuntu TV, MySpace TV released
  •  Provide Resources For The Olympics (Part 2)
  •  Provide Resources For The Olympics (Part 1)
  •  Fujifilm Released The First Version Of CSC
  •  OLED Technology Casts A Spell On Big Screen TV
  •  Netflix Introduces Streaming Services In England
  •  Intel Introduced The Future Of Ultrabook
  •  Dolby Digital Plus On Netflix
  •  Gamepad - How It Works (Part 3) - Inside Kinect of Microsoft
    Top 10
    Primer – Choosing And Using Peripheral Buses (Part 2)
    Primer – Choosing And Using Peripheral Buses (Part 1)
    SanDisk ReadyCache 32GB - Caching Solution SSD
    Windows 8 Tips And Tricks – Jan 2013
    Lenovo IdeaPad S400 - Stylish And Affordable Laptop
    Nokia Lumia 920 - Super Smart, Super-Size Handset
    Optimus L9 - The Nicest Phone In LG's 'L' Line
    Bits Of Bytes
    Happy iMas (Part 2)
    Happy iMas (Part 1)
    Most View
    11 Tips For Smarter Shopping (Part 1)
    10 Best products of the past 200 issues (Part 3)
    Backing Up the Exchange Server 2010 Environment : Understanding the Importance of Backups & Establishing Service Level Agreements
    Windows Server 2008 : Manage Hyper-V Remotely
    Reporting Services with SQL Azure : Deploying the Report & Creating a Subreport
    Troubleshoot Projector Problems
    Caching Page Content
    Apple Extends An Olive Branch In The Dying Days Of MobileMe
    Custom Kit : Media streamer, Griffin beacon, Samsung – navibot VCR8895, startech unidock3ugb
    Intel Ivy Bridge : Core i5-3570k and Core i7-3770K (part 2)
    Oloneo HDRengine
    Executing Work on a Background Thread with Updates
    HP Global Influencer Summit 2012 (Part 1) - The HP Envy Spectre XT, The HP Envy Sleekbook
    Our predictions for future tech (Part 2)
    Tech Chance - Revamps …Worsts Ever!
    MySQL Server Monitoring (part 1) - SQL Commands
    Top 10 Blu-Ray Players – November 2012
    Exchange Server 2010 : Track Exchange Performance (part 1) - Use the Performance Tools Available
    Advice Centre by Photography Experts (Part 3) - Canon EOS 5D Mk II & Canon EOS 550D
    Around London with iOS (Part 4)