Today I am interviewing my great friend and accomplished macro photographer Andres Moline. With an eye for design and a love of arthropods, Moline's work is truly captivating. He specializes in shooting sharp handheld focus stacks that leave you in awe looking at all of the little details.
How Did You Start Photography and Was It Always Macro or Did You Shoot Other Styles of Photography?
I started photography in high school; a commercial arts class offered an intro to photography, where I learned about reflex cameras, the principles of developing film in the darkroom, and how to use Photoshop (version 2.5). I continued doing photography occasionally and later picked up a few classes during my college years.
These classes had an emphasis on learning post-production and the principles of composition. At that time I loved photography, but the darkroom kept me away from it as I often didn't have access to one. When the first DSLR cameras came out in 2000, it got me back into photography in a more serious way, as the new technology opened the opportunity to edit and develop digital images anywhere I happened to be. I first started doing travel photography as I was often between Asia and Latin America. Later, I picked up product photography as my design firm needed to advertise the products it was generating and I was very happy to make that my task. Eventually, that aspect of photography became a big part of my business, and I was photographing jewelry, grooming products, and electrodomestics, and putting tons of emphasis on details and stacking images together to increase the depth of field of the products. Without knowing it, I was learning all the necessary tools to become a macro photographer.
What Are Your Favorite Subjects To Shoot and Where Do You Find Them?
This is a tricky question as most people think jumping spiders are my favorite subjects since I have photographed many of them, but the truth is that I like all arthropods and I'm constantly searching for new species to photograph. Finding them is a great challenge and it takes a lot of work and research to get to know their habits, behaviors, and their environment. Once you are aware, you will be able to forecast what to expect to find in a specific region, and also understand what signs to look for that will make it easier to find them. There are many species that are nocturnal and require nighttime photo hunting trips as well as some that are easier to photograph early in the day before they become active. I travel all over Florida, the state I live in looking for local insects, also other countries that are known for their massive biodiversity such as Colombia (my native country), Costa Rica, Russia, and some Asian countries.
What Are Your Favorite Tools for the Shooting Process and the Post-Processing of Your Images?
I'm currently using the Canon 5DS R with the Canon MP-E 65mm dedicated macro lens as well as the Canon 100mm Macro, however, depending on my shooting needs I will use extension tubes to increase magnification. For my flash set up I use the Canon MT24EX with multiple stages of diffusion and an external battery pack that allows the flash to quickly recycle when doing handheld stacks. For post-processing, I use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and when focus stacking images I use Zerene Stacker and Affinity Photo.
Is There Any Money To Be Made in Macro Photography or Is It Simply a Hobby and Passion?
Just like any other genre in photography, it can be done both as a hobby or as a job. Macro photography can make money if it’s used in the areas of jewelry, watch photography, or forensics. I've done both and have made money from it. I have also sold and licensed digital and printed work of my insect photography. There are opportunities to generate extra income in the area of education by offering workshops and in my case developing a macro photography tutorial. However, the main reason most people do macro photography is for the passion and love for the small subjects (bugs) we photograph.
Do You Have Any Advice for Someone Trying To Get Into Macro Photography?
Yes! Enjoy the path of discovery and learning, as with any other style of photography it takes many years to master, but the results are rewarding. With macro photography, you will not only learn how to fully use your camera or the importance of controlling and manipulating light, but also learn the value that the subjects we photograph have in our environment and how critical they are for the future of our planet.
You Did a Very in-Depth Macro Photography Tutorial With Fstoppers. Can You Tell Us More About It and What One Can Learn From It?
Let me start by telling you that I'm a big fan of their work and have always been impressed with the quality of content they produce for their channel and especially for their tutorials. When I first watched one of their tutorials (Photographing the World With Elia Locardi), I was blown away by the quality of their content. There is a science behind creating such professional tutorials and they have mastered the elements of developing a well-thought-out process for teaching and inspiring photographers of all levels. I didn't know the tutorial would end up having 22 lessons and more than 12 hours of video content, but as anything Fstoppers, we set out to create the most comprehensive tutorial to cover all aspects of macro photography. We start with basic principles and evolve into more professional studio work, as well as lessons in the field showcasing all the tricks I've learned throughout the years that I have devoted to the art of macro photography. Every lesson is accompanied by a post-processing section which includes my complete workflow. In every lesson, you will learn how to get the most out of your camera gear, how to use inexpensive tools to create unique environments that will allow you to explore the creative aspects of macro photography, as well as how to achieve very complex images by applying simple tricks and principles related to other aspects of general photography.
Many people have the misconception that in macro photography we photograph dead specimens, the reality is that all of my subjects are alive. In the tutorial I show you how to find and approach them out in the wild, how to focus stack handheld, all while creating studio-like images in the middle of the rainforest,
If you are an adventurous person that wants to discover the secret worlds hidden in plain sight, you will be impressed to find out that there is no need to travel far. You can find out more about my tutorial by visiting the Fstoppers store.
View more work by Andres Moline on his Instagram page here and website here.