Category Archives: Macro Photography

Flutter Bys

While it’s not the primary focus of my photography, I definitely have a love for shooting macro. When one sees a close-up photo of a flower or insect they usually assume it was shot using a macro lens. While that may be true in many instances, it’s not always the case. The shots below, for example, were taken with my “super-zoom,” the Sigma 50-500mm lens. This lens certainly has no close-focus capabilities and would not fit the criteria to be considered a “macro lens.” It is possible, however, to make some nice close-up shots of small critters and flora using a telephoto lens. The fact is these were opportunistic shots. I wasn’t actively pursuing butterfly shots but when the opportunity presented its self I wasn’t hesitant to take advantage of it. When out in nature you need to be observant and willing to make adjustments when photographic opportunities knock.

Butterfly in the Croatan National Forest.

Non-macro butterly close-up

Butterfly photo taken with a Sigma 50-500mm lens

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Anole on a Cattail

The title of the post pretty much says it all.  I was working a forest road for interesting flora when I spotted this little guy perched on the head of a cattail.  I just couldn’t resist making a few images of it.  The lizard cooperated nicely and allowed me to approach closer than I expected.  Of course I started making shots from a bit of distance then slowly worked closer and closer until my subject finally got tired of me and scurried on down the stalk and into cover.  The temptation, of course, is always to move in nice and close from the beginning.  That’s a really good way to end-up without an image to show for the effort.  Slow, diligent movement while observing the animals reaction and alert level is the key to success regardless of the size of animal you’re attempting to photograph.

Green anole in the Croatan National Forest.

Green anole on a cattail head.

Green anole.


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Rough Green Snake

The weather broke a bit late this afternoon so I decided to venture out and see if I could find something interesting to photograph. The skies were still threatening a bit so I decided to stick to the car and explore some forest roads. That type of outing is always a bit hit or miss… with miss being the most common. I got lucky and notice a Rough Green Snake in the middle of the forest road. While they’re probably common enough their bright green color makes them very difficult to find when in vegetation. They are generally fairly tolerant of close contact with humans, seldom if ever bite so I decided to take advantage of those tendencies and used a macro lens combined with a 1.4x teleconverter and, eventually, an extension tube. For some of these shots the front of my lens was probably within 3 inches or so of the snake’s face.

A Rough Green Snake in the Croatan National Forest

Rough Green Snakes are fairly docile and approachable.

Green snakes eat primarily insects and spiders.

Rough Green Snake.

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Black Eyed Susans

I really can’t explain why it is but I really enjoy it when the Blackeyed Susans are blooming. Below are a few recent images of these bright yellow beauties.

Blackeyed Susan

Blacketed Susan growing in the Croatan National Forest.

Blackeyed Susan

Coastal Carolina wildflower

Wildflower photography from North Carolina

Wildflowers often grow along forest roads in eastern North Carolina.

Blackeyed Susan.

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Sometimes the “Wrong” Lens is Just Right!

Usually when I want to take close-up photos of plants and flowers I reach from my trusty 100mm macro lens. But recently I decided to play around with doing some close-up work with a wide angle zoom. Instead of mounting my macro lens I reached in my bag and pulled out my Tokina 12-24mm wild angle lens for the job. This lens has a very short minimal focus length allowing me to get a reasonably sized image of the subject. In the case of the images shown below the front of element of the lens was probably only 3 or 4 inches away from the subject…AT MOST! The disadvantage of this lens choice is that you have to work much closer to the subject than if using a longer lens. Honestly, I frequently use a 1.4x teleconverter with my macro lens to either allow even greater magnification or to allow me to work from further away. There is an advantage to using the wild angle lens for close-up work though. The perspective is quite different using this lens when compared to that of a longer lens. Below are the results of this endeavor. I hope you enjoy them.

Fern shot in the Croatan Forest using a 24mm wild angle lens.

Sometimes you need to think out of the box to create unique images.

Southern blue flag iris shot with a wide angle lens.

Wide angle of a wild flower photographed in the Croatan National Forest.

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It Just Wouldn’t be Spring Without…

It just wouldn’t be spring without a least one post with photos of wildflowers! Seriously, “April showers… Spring flowers” and such. It’s a tradition! So not wanting to condemn myself to some bad ju-ju by not enjoying a little bit of spring flora photography, and assuming that carnivorous plants just don’t count as “flowers,” here is my offering for the rites of spring. A single Daisy and a couple wild Magnolias. Just be forewarned, this post doesn’t mean I won’t post more wild flower images sometime in the future!

A roadside daisy.

A wild magnolia bloom in the Croatan National Forest.

Wild magnolia bloom.

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Mammals Aren’t the Only Meat Eaters in the Croatan Forest!

Coastal North Carolina is a magical place in so many different ways. One of those is the presence of carnivorous plants. For example, found only within a 100 miles of Wilmingtion, NC, the Venus Fly Trap is one of the more interesting indigenous plants found on the coastal plain. But the Venus Fly Trap isn’t the only carnivorous plant found in eastern North Carolina. Others include Bladder Wart, a variety of Pitcher Plants as well as Sundew plants. I tend to be very tight lipped about where I find these plants as they are somewhat rare and there can be a problem with poaching. Below are a couple shots of a Venus Fly Trap and a Sundew taken somewhere in the Croatan National Forest.

Native to North Carolina the Venus Flytrap is an endangered plant well worth protecting.

Venus Flytrap.

The Sundew plant is another kind of carnivoruos plant found in North Carolina

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Starfish on the Beach

Sometimes it’s fun to visit the local gift shops, select an object and use that as a prop for a photo session. This evening I decided to spend a little time photographing a starfish on the beach. I hope you enjoy the results.

Starfish on the beach.


Natural props, such as whelk shells or starfish, can be fun photographic subjects.

Starfish and whelk shell on the beach.

outer banks photos

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Fall Approaches, Wild Flowers Fade

Lately the mornings have been a little cool. Not crisp and frosty yet but the hint of autumn is definitely there. With that hint of fall the wildflowers found along the forest service roads are beginning to fade and wither. That can actually be an interesting to time to mount a macro lens to the favorite DSLR body and make some art.

Now some folks aren’t going to see the beauty in wilted, drooping petals, but there is a character about them. They also won’t “get” the use of selective focus or shallow depth of fields. While other photographers may heap piles of compliments on such offerings, the non-photographers… or at least not serious shutterbugs… may make comments like “at least I can get a flower all in focus” or something similar. And just imagine their shock when you photograph a flower from the back! But that’s okay. Art isn’t about pleasing everyone else. It’s about pleasing ones self. Below are a few selections from my recent effort to capture these fading flowers.

Selective focus on a yellow flower.

An unusal view of a wildflower.

You don't always have to photograph a flower in a familar way.

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Tired of Wild Horses? Then Here’s Some Butterflies!

The truth be told I’ll never tire of photographing the wild horses that call eastern North Carolina home. But they’re not the only thing I shoot. I as out and about Sunday afternoon doing some scouting in the Croatan National Forest when I came across and area that was just littered with butterflies. The number of these pretty little bugs was almost staggering. Even though I wasn’t equipped for these types of photos… (I had the wrong tripod head to mount the camera with the macro lens)… but I roughed it with some hand-held shots. Here are a few of my favorites.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Butterfly in the Croatan Forest


Orange butterfly


Croatan Forest Butterfly

Butterfly in the Croatain National Forest


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