My Macro Setup (Part 2)

(Updated 14.09.2015) Greetings everyone! Welcome to My Macro Rig (Part 2)!

The previous version My Macro Setup turned to be one of the most popular articles in this entire website, therefore I have decided to continue writing about my recent upgrades on my Macro System here since the previous article proved to be exceedingly long as it is. I thank those who wrote in personally to ask about ways to improve their Macro Rigs, and I am very grateful to be able to guide some of you in person, I hope that we can keep the momentum going!

Here, I would like to continue with my work on my Macro Rig Mark VIII. This setup provides great overall performance- You never have to worry about bringing extra batteries for the SB-700 (or equivalent) flashgun, and the flash produced is simply so powerful that you can afford to add in a few more layers of PE foams for even extreme light diffusion!  Learn more about light diffusion in: 6 Things about Flash Diffusion that You Should Know.

However, I wouldn’t even consider describing the Mark VIII as portable or light, which is why I set off to shred off some of the accessories of this system, so as to reduce the overall size and weight of the rig.

Here I would like to introduce my Macro Rig Mark IX.

Macro Rig Mark IX prototype

Macro Rig Mark IX- A prototype. Fragile at this stage, but very functional and the results are good.

This system is very much like the previous version, but I have decided to not use extension tubes any more as they are not very reliable (Read more about my story HERE). I am now using Raynox-150 and Raynox-250 Macro Conversion Lenses now as they are lighter, easier to use, render no loss of light, and most importantly, are more reliable. If you are not sure to go for Raynox-150 or Raynox-250? Please kindly read HERE.

At the same time, I have designed a different, smaller light diffuser with minimal waste of your flash light. Please see the image below for the concept of the design.

Flash diffusion of Macro Rig Mark IX

Flash diffusion of Macro Rig Mark IX. A flash stofen is used this time to spread the light in all directions. The top reflector has an aluminum foil lining to help bounce the light coming from the flashgun back onto the diffusers, this ensures light spread.

The toughest part of a single flash system is that, unlike dual flash systems, it is difficult to channel your light evenly from the sides. With dual flash systems, you can easily position your light to come from the left and the right, which, with proper diffusion will result in little to no shadows at all. That said, good diffusion can still be achieved with a single flashgun like the SB-700 (or equivalent), which offers more battery power as well as flash power. The light can be purposely “channelled” from your flashgun as much as possible to the left and right sides of your system. The Mark VIII was capable of this, and so is the Mark IX, albeit the simpler design.

The Mark IX makes use of a flash stofen that usually comes along with the flashgun to spread the light in all directions, which are all then reflected downwards by an aluminium “plate” at the top. This reduces loss of light, and help channels most of the light back to the subject. The system also features 2 layers of diffusion (you could stick to one layer too provided your diffuser material is good) for maximum diffusion. The overall performance is very impressive, will be shooting a lot with this system for a long term review. Please stay tune to that!


** All photos in this website are taken and owned by me. The use of any photos here is not allowed without my permission. 

Long Term Review: Extension Tubes vs. Macro Conversion Lens

Let’s face it, it wasn’t easy to obtain good information when it comes to equipment related to Macro Photography, simply because the gears are expensive and diverse- no one simply has the time and money to test them all, let alone write detailed reviews about them. In this article I will write about how I feel about my Extension Tubes and Macro Conversion Lens (Raynox) when it comes to Macro Photography. I have had these Macro Accessories for around 2 years. Hopefully the details here will help dedicated Macro Enthusiast venture into the Macro World without breaking his or her pocket!

Macro Conversion Lens and Extension Tubes: Which one should you choose?

Macro Conversion Lenses and Extension Tubes are great Macro Accessories to start your macro journey, but which one is more suitable for your shooting style?

 You are pretty much limited to advice and comments from people when it comes to choosing Macro lenses and accessories, and they all seem to have different opinions! After getting myself really confused, I started off with a set of Kenko Extension Tubes because I know them plastic ones won’t survive hardcore usage, and simply because I needed the Autofocus capabilities. At that time (~2 years ago), I have heard of Raynox but not Reverse Rings. To learn more about these macro-capable accessories, kindly read Getting Your First Macro Camera.

Automatic Extension Tubes 

Extension Tubes (ET) are hollow tubes that, when attached, increase magnification. Generally, the more you attach, the higher the magnification. After two years of rough usage, I have already changed two sets of Kenko Extension Tubes, equalling to ~RM1000. The tubes come in three levels: 12mm, 20mm and 36mm.

 

Kenko Extension Tubes

My first set of Kenko Extension Tubes. They are the most premium and high quality, 3rd party ET in Malaysia, costing about RM550 for a set. These tubes are well known for their sturdiness and AF-capabilities.

Macro Setup Mark 1

How Extension Tubes are used. Here 3 levels of Kenko ET (12mm, 20mm and 36mm) are attached to a 50mm F1.8 (non-macro) lens.

Although Extension Tubes offer great versatility when it comes to photographing Nature Photography (suitable for bugs of all sizes), they are not very reliable. Mind you, Kenko is one of the best, and more expensive 3rd party ET in the market. The 12mm and 20mm were always the first to go, losing electronic link between the lens and the DSLR body. This happened because of the heavy weight of the lens.

No contact

A Nikon DSLR body will automatically shoot at an aperture of F0 when the contact between the lens and the body becomes severed. This issue will occur after prolonged usage of Extension Tubes.

 

I purchased a second set of Kenko ET not because I knew they will eventually spoil, but rather because I wanted higher magnification (like all beginners do T___T) by pairing 2x 36mm ET. I have never expected my first Kenko 36mm ET to fail, considering the relatively thick and sturdy build.

Based on this experience, I would say that 3rd party ET (from Kenko and the slightly cheaper Meike) are not sturdy enough for long-termed Macro usage. I have heard comments that first party ET (Canon, Nikon etc.) are of even better quality. However, considering the steep price, and also the fact that there are better Macro Accessories out there, it is rather unlikely that I will get any of those any time soon.

Advantages:

  • Versatility in magnification due to the 3 tube levels
  • Wide focus distance for each tube level
  • Autofocus capable
  • Portable and easy-to-use
  • Can be used with short Macro Lenses (e.g. 40-60mm focal range)

Disadvantages:

  • Loses light with each tube (especially challenging during night field trips)
  • Not sturdy especially with all 3 levels attached
  • Image quality seem to be affected slightly
  • Unreliable

Verdict: Extension Tubes are great Macro Accessories to start your Macro Journey. However, ET should not be paired with heavy Macro Lenses (>1kg) to ensure reliability (It took me 2 years of rough usage to actually “destroy” my 36mm Kenko ET).


Macro Conversion Lens

Macro Conversion Lenses (MCL) are clip-on lenses that offer instant magnification. The two most common MCL are Raynox-150 and Raynox-250, learn more about them in Raynox 150 vs. Raynox-250. I bought the Raynox-250 (2.5x magnification) a few months after I got my first Kenko Extension Tubes, mainly because some other Macro Photographers say that its good, and they were right. The Raynox-250 offers really high magnification without any loss of light, and the resulting photos are tact sharp.

Macro Conversion Lenses


Macro Conversion Lenses: Raynox-150 and Raynox-250

Macro Conversion Lens


How a Macro Conversion Lens is used. Here a Raynox-250 is clipped onto a Nikkor 105mm F2.8 micro lens.

The biggest issue I had with the Raynox-250 was that it didn’t suit my shooting style. The really close focusing distance and ultra high magnification means that it is only suitable for small subjects (<~1cm). Anything larger you will have to make do with photographing certain body parts of the subject. At that time I only use the Raynox-250 when subjects are very small.  It is not until recently that I’ve discovered the existence of the Raynox-150 which allows slightly less magnification (1.5x) but a wider focusing distance, it suited me perfectly.

Advantages:

  • No loss of light
  • Portable and easy-to-use
  • Photos are sharp
  • Autofocus capable
  • Reliable

Disadvantages:

  • Relatively shorter focusing range (compared to ET)
  • The view may be blocked if clipped inappropriately
  • Fogging issues
  • Raynox-250 not practical for short Macro Lenses (e.g. 40-60mm focal range)
  • Lens accumulates dust easily

Verdict: Depending on your Macro Lens and also your shooting style, MCL offer good performance for the price. Although most people always start with a Raynox-250, I would encourage potential buyers to test out both the Raynox-150 and -250 first to determine which one is more suitable. Take note that the very short focusing range of the Raynox-250 means that it is not suitable for short Macro Lens e.g. <60mm.


After 2 years of shooting Macro, I guess I can say that MCL are in fact, better than Extension Tubes in the long run, mainly because of their reliability. They are cheaper as well. On a side note, you can actually purchase cheap converter rings for your Raynox so that they no longer need to be clipped on and off.

Macro Setup Mark III

Of course, if budget is not a constrain, you can always get everything XD

 

That’s all for this very short article, I hope you find it useful  🙂

Macro Photography: Raynox-150 vs Raynox-250

If you have read the articles in Pixelsdimension right from the start, you would’ve noticed that the Raynox-250 had been mentioned quite a number of times, particularly in Getting Your First Macro Camera. This Raynox-250 is essentially a Macro Conversion Lens (MCL) which, when clipped on, drastically increase the magnification of your lens (2.5x to be precise). There are many benefits to using a MCL, and the Raynox-250 is by far the most popular in Malaysia- People will always recommend this model, and most would just follow the advice. Like many others I started off with a Raynox-250.

Signal Fly

This Signal Fly was taken with a Raynox Macro Conversion Lens, a versatile macro accessory that is often present in a Macro Enthusiast’s arsenal.

It is not until my recent discussion with a famous Macro Photographer that I noticed that there are other suitable and practical MCL for Macrography, notably the Raynox-150. The Raynox-150, as you might have guessed, is the little brother of the Raynox-250, providing slightly less magnification (at 1.5x) but with a slightly farther working distance. This particular article aims to enlighten beginners or enthusiasts about the performances of Raynox-150 and Raynox-250, allowing them to select the MCL more suited to their style of photography.

Raynox-150 vs Raynox-250

Brothers. The very popular Raynox-250, and its neglected brother, the Raynox-150. Which one do you need?

After learning a bit more about the Raynox-150, I have decided to buy one and try it since it suits my way of taking natural, wildlife photos. A brief surf of the internet quickly revealed that there was pretty much only one store selling this particular lens, and at a hefty price too! So if you are keen on purchasing this MCL after reading this article, you might want to consider importing one from overseas, which will likely be cheaper. The prices of the Raynox-150 and Raynox-250 are quite close at ~RM250-300.

In terms of specifications, both the Raynox-150 and -250 have a front mount diameter of 49mm, and a rear mount diameter of 43mm (and comes with a clip-on universal mount suitable for lenses with diameter of 52-67mm). The Raynox-150 (1.5x magnification) is only very slightly lighter than the Raynox-250 (2.5x magnification).

Raynox-150 vs Raynox-250

Both the Raynox-150 and -250 are made in Japan, and look very similar to one another, even when it comes to pricing! Sorry for the dirty lenses, both have seen quite a fair bit of action in the wilderness XD

The following are some sample shots using a Raynox-150/250 on a Nikkor 105mm F2.8 lens mounted on a Nikon D800 for comparison. Shots were taken at a fixed settings of ISO100, F16, 1/250, 105mm, flash fired at full power (with diffuser). All photos are unedited and not cropped; the maximum and minimum distances of each MCL were also roughly measured. However, due to slow internet and limited quota, I am uploading the resized versions. For those who are interested in the original files, please feel free to email me at jtan@utar.edu.my.

Raynox-150 performance

Unedited photo showing [Top] the maximum possible distance (minimum magnification) and [Bottom] the minimum possible distance (maximum magnification) of the Raynox-150.

Raynox-250 preformance

Unedited photo showing [Top] the maximum possible distance (minimum magnification) and [Bottom] the minimum possible distance (maximum magnification) of the Raynox-250.

Here are the rough measurements:

Raynox-150:

The maximum focusing distance (minimum magnification) is 22cm; the minimum focusing distance (maximum magnification) is 12.5cm.

Raynox-250:

The maximum focusing distance (minimum magnification) is 13cm; the minimum focusing distance (maximum magnification) is 8cm.

* Please take note that these measurements were obtained on a 105mm macro lens, and a Full-frame (FF) Nikon D800. On a Crop-Sensor (APS-C) DSLR with the same lens, the distance will be slightly farther. Learn more about the difference between Crop-Sensor and FF DSLRs in Choosing the Best DSLR for Macro Photography.


Of course, all these numbers do not mean much when out in the field, it all depends on what you are shooting. If you are photographing a very tiny subject, say <1cm, the Raynox-250 will really come in handy as it offers enough magnification for a great shot. However, if you are photographing subjects that are larger than 1cm (which many insects are), the Raynox-250 would not be able to fit the entire subject into the frame since you can only “zoom out” that much (~13cm). Even if you manage to “squeeze” the entire subject (say <2cm) into the shot, due to the shallow Depth-of-Field (DOF) [Learn more about DOF HERE], your shot will not turn out well either, especially if you are shooting at poor angles. The Raynox-150, on the other hand allows you more versatility when it comes to photographing larger insects (due to the large focusing range of 12.5-22cm), although it doesn’t offer as much magnification as its counterpart; sometimes it can be a good thing.

Shallow DOF

Taking a single shot at the highest magnification possible will not always give you the best results, particularly so if your subject is large in size. This shot was taken with a Raynox-250. I took this shot focusing on the eyes of the bug. Even though I wasn’t shooting at highest magnification, you can easily see that part of the bug (red circle) is already out of focus (OOF). So if you were to get closer, the OOF parts will become more apparent, even to the point that it ruins your shot.

Most beginners in Macro Photography will always opt for Macro Systems with the highest magnifications (I use to do this as well XD), which is why Raynox-250 is so popular. However, in many cases the Raynox-250 is often shelved because of its limited usability i.e. close focusing distance and shallow DOF. This is when the Raynox-150 might perform better, depending on the shooting style of the Macro Enthusiast.

Raynox-150 vs Raynox-250

Getting the Macro Conversion Lens that offers the highest magnification could turn out to be a double-edge sword. It is best to understand your style of shooting before making the pick.

It is not really difficult to determine whether the Raynox-150 or -250 suits you better. Just have a look at your previous Macro photos. Do you usually photograph large or tiny organisms? For the former, go for the Raynox-150, and for the latter, the Raynox-250. Simple as that.

Heavy Jumper- Hyllus diardi ♀

A Hyllus diardi heavy jumper. If you love to shoot tiny subjects of ~1cm or less, then the Raynox-250 would certainly suit you better. However, you are going to have to learn to cope with the limited working distance, which can be challenging to focus on a moving subject.

I hope you find this short article useful, especially to those who are looking to try out Raynox MCL lenses. For those who are currently using Extension Tubes and are wondering why you should upgrade to MCL lenses, please read Long Term Review: Extension Tubes vs. Macro Conversion Lens.

Until then, thank you and have a pleasant day ahead guys!

How Good Is Your Flash Diffuser?

After shooting macro for around 2 years, I have noticed that there are quite a lot of things that I do not know, and many skills that I have yet to grasp. However, there is one thing that I am absolutely certain- You need to use flash if you truly want to master Macro. Not sure why? Please read Using Flash In Macro Photography for more details.

Pancorius cf. magnus ♀

Lighting is the most important aspect of Macro Photography. Great lighting can be achieved using a good flash coupled with a great diffuser.

 

 

Those who are into Macro Photography for some time will notice eventually that simply blasting your subjects with super bright flash will not give you great results, simply because the lights are too harsh. Diffusers are thus needed to “soften” the light. Considering the lack of readily available diffusers in the market, most enthusiasts and pros alike resort to making their own diffusers based on their own creativity and innovation. Please read HERE to learn more about making an awesome flash diffuse. Please feel free to check out my versions of diffusers (a bit outdated, but it works XD) if you like in My Macro Rig.

Assassin bug assasinating

Bad (or more accurately, NO) diffusion. One of my first outdoor macro shots. I knew that using a flash is important, but without a diffuser, the light falling onto the subject was really harsh, causing overexposed parts on the assassin bug, and casting obvious shadows underneath. You will not get this with a good diffuser.

 

Okay, so now that you have made your own diffuser, how do you gauge its effectiveness at softening the light coming from your flash? Shooting still subjects indoors is definitely a big NO NO as the ambient light is often too dark for you to assess your light diffusion. Most Macro Photographers will head outdoors to test their new diffusers, which is the right thing to do. However, most are unsure which diffusion aspects that they should check for, which brings us to today’s short article.


There are only three things to check when you assess a flash diffuser; and the best way to test them is to use specific creatures as subjects:

1. Light Diffusion

The better the light diffusion, the softer the light hitting the surface of the subject. If you are unsure, check the shadows cast of your subject: A harsh light source will also generate a harsh shadow (clear shadow boundary).

Diffuser (Before and After)

Light Diffusion: A before and after shot of a female Argiope doleschalli. I took the top shot using only one plastic diffuser for the flash. The 2nd one includes another plastic + fabric diffuser to further diffuse the light. The differences are obvious, especially on the glossy cephalothorax (head) of the spider.

Model: Any insect or arthropod with a shiny or glossy carapace e.g. metallic bugs, certain beetles, ladybirds etc.

Rationale: The glossy or shiny surfaces of arthropods are smooth and will reflect your flash directly. If your flash diffusion is mediocre, it will show up clearly. Testing your flash on other subjects (say a hairy spider or caterpillar) will not give you an accurate measure of your light diffusion since the light will be “absorbed” by the numerous minute hairs.

2. Light Spread

The better the light spread, the more evenly distributed the light that falls onto the subject. The idea is to ensure that light falls onto the entire subject (and of course the surrounding environment) from different angles, not just from the top.

Diffuser (Before and After)


Light Spread: Before and after shot of a (different) robberfly. The upper shot was taken with a flash without diffuser flashing from the top left; the lower shot was taken with a flash and diffuser coming from the top, plus a rounded dish diffuser in front of the lens (See My Macro Rig, Mark VIII). Note the eye apparent differences in shadow and colours of the robberfly’s eyes.

Model: Eyes of robberflies or dragonflies.

Rationale: The eyes or robberflies and dragonflies are large and rounded. In order to light up the entire eye, you will need a near-perfect light spread from your diffuser. The wonderful and “ever-changing” colours of the eyes of robberflies make a great indicator of your light spread too, which is why robberflies are a hit with most Macro Photographers.

3. Light Shape

The shape of your light, or more precisely, your diffuser may not be as important as the points stated above;  but they do come in real handy for specific shots.

 

Sub-female Heavy Jumper- Hyllus cf. keratodes ♀

Light Shape. The eyes of spiders (A Hyllus cf. keratodes here) make exceptionally great indicators for your light shape since they have so many eyes (8 in fact!). It is totally up to you and your imagination what type of shape you desire.

 

Model:  Eyes of jumping spiders, frogs, geckos, lizards, snakes etc.

Rationale: The eyes of many creatures will reflect the light coming out of your diffuser, which will show up in your final photo. If you create a star-shaped flash diffuser, you can expect many of your subjects to be “starry-eyed”!


Well, I guess that’s all there is to it, simple enough? 🙂

I hope you find this info interesting and useful in helping you construct a great DIY diffuser. Take note that there is no universal and “best” diffuser out there, as different photographers have different preferences in their shooting styles, so just keep trying until you find one that is most suited to your needs. Please do drop me a question should you ever need any help with designing and building a diffuser!

Green Scarab Beetle- cf. Anomala sp.

One last photo before I end- A Green Scarab Beetle (Anomala?). When you think you have designed an awesome flash diffuser, it is time to test it out on fully metallic subjects like this common beetle here. Subjects like this are almost impossible to photograph properly without a good diffuser.

 

Until the next article, Happy Shooting guys!


** All photos in this website are taken and owned by me. The use of any photos here is not allowed without my permission. 

Pixels Dimension- My 20 Best Macro Photos of 2014!

Hello guys and girls! As the year 2014 is drawing to a close, I figured it would be a great time to summarize our progress over the year~

I remembered taking my first ever (horrible) macro shot about one and a half years ago, and started this website on June 2014. I have learnt a lot over this short period of time, both in terms of photography skills and also general knowledge on the wonderful creatures I’ve come across. The more I’ve learnt the more I come to appreciate Macro Photography and also our beautiful and priceless Nature.

One thing is for sure, I couldn’t have achieved any of this without the help and guidance of several humble and great Macro Gurus around the region; I also couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragements from friends, families and of course, the awesome viewers and readers here (Pixels Dimension has just break 3,500 views!)! Thank you very much for everything!   <3

Okay, without further ado, my top 20 favourite shots for year 2014! Photos are selected not only based on aesthetics, but also rarity of the moment and difficulty of the shot~ Please enjoy!

 


20. A Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) envenoming a frog

A Wagler's Pit Viper eating (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

How often do you see a Pit Viper in action? You don’t. They are often well camouflaged or are exceedingly hard and dangerous to reach in the wild. This shot was made possible thank to my cousin who happened to be a herpetologist. Note the large and frightening fangs of the viper!


19. An angry female Malayan Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius malayanus)

Angry Malaysian Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius malayanus ♀)

Liphistius Trapdoor Spiders are one of the most ancient spiders living on Earth today and are thus protected by Malaysian Laws. It has been reported that the females of these spiders are generally shy and will prefer flight than fight. Well, it certainly doesn’t apply for very large individuals, they have quite a temper, and will not hesitate to bite you! An uncommon behavioural shot, thus making to the Top 20~


  18. A mating pair of Stalk-eye Flies (Teleopsis sp.)

Stalk-eye Flies (Teleopsis sp.) mating

Stalk-eye Flies are a great wonder to many, thanks to their bizarre eyes! These flies were so exciting that BBC decided to document them in Malaysia. Although not exactly very rare, the long stalks and movements of these flies make them a big challenge to photograph. I only managed to get this shot by luck (plus a lot of cropping!)


 17. Finally, A Lanturn Bug (Zanna sp.)

Lantern Bug Nymph (Zanna sp.)

I was so touched when I was shown a Lantern Bug by Macro Sifus Zaidi Razak and Lee Hua Ming. I had a lot of troubles finding, let alone photographing Lantern Bugs before this, so I was happy to be able to photograph one, even if its a nymph! *Yes yes, I know a lot of photographers who shoots these bugs for breakfast haha :p


16. A Curved, Long-Spined Spider (Macracantha arcuata)

Curved Long-Spined Spider- Macracantha arcuata ♀

Pretty much a dream come true when I came across this unique and beautiful spider with my cousin. This spider needs no introduction, as it is definitely in every Macro Photographer’s wishlist! This series of photos have been used for several publications and competitions 🙂


15. A pair of Great Angle Head Lizards (Gonocephalus grandis)

Great Angle Head Lizard- Gonocephalus grandis ♂♀

Found a male and female Lizards of the same species at different locations on the same day! Shots made possible thanks to great luck, and not to mention my superb ninja photographic skills :p


14. An juvenile female Argiope doleschalli 

Cross Spider, web stabilimenta and exuvia- Argiope doleschalli  juv ♀

A powerful and informative image of a rarely seen St. Andrew Cross Spider, showing not only the spider, but also the thick, supportive structure (Stabilimenta) of the web, and also the remaining exoskeleton (exuvia) of the spider after moulting (ecdysis).


13. A Giant Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus spinifer) under UV illumination

Giant Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus spinifer) glowing under UV light

My first attempt at photographing using UV light, made possible by my cousin as I don’t even have a UV light @@ It was pretty fun, exciting and challenging at the same time as photos need to be taken with slow shutters.


12. A strikingly orange Giant Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius desultor

Liphistius desultor ♀

My first encounter with a large Trapdoor spider, I remembered how excited and afraid I was when photographing this ridiculously fast spider. I never knew Trapdoor spiders could grow so large, and become so different from their juvenile forms.


11. An adult female Double-Hump Yellow Tent Spider (Cyrtophora cylindroides) drinking water

Yellow Tent Spider (Cyrtophora cylindroides ♀) drinking

It is no myth that spiders may need to drink water from a water body instead of gaining all the hydration from bodily fluids of preys. However, we don’t often get to see them drinking, thus to me this is a valuable behavioural shot. This was also the first time I saw the adult form of this Tent Spider.


10. Two-in-one, a dragonfly and a millipede

2-in-1: Dragonfly and millipede

A natural find of two different organism in one frame, not something you come across all the time, unless if you cheat lol :p


9. A mother crab spider (Thomisus sp.) and her babies

White Crab Spider and spiderlings- Thomisus sp. ♀

This shot is my first in getting so close to photographing a mother spider guarding her spiderlings and egg sac. The resulting shot is made possible by stitching quite a number of photos together.


8. Malayan Forest Gecko (Cyrtodactylus pulchellus) removing water droplets from its eye

Malayan Forest Gecko removing water droplets- Cyrtodactylus pulchellus

A shot made possible by my herpetologist cousin. It is from this shot that I’ve learnt that geckos don’t have eyelids and need to use their tongues to remove water droplets on their eyes. Took an entire series of shots here and I hope I will be able to make it into an animation when I know how to lol!


7. A colourful Praying Mantis

Mantis

I have never really been very lucky with mantises since I often fail to see through their impressive camouflage. This magnificent-looking mantis was in fact seen by my girlfriend. From this shot I realized how cooperative mantises are at posing for photographs, and I really hope I will be able to find more in the future, especially dead-leaf, flower and perhaps even orchid mantises!


 6. A Trilobite Beetle (Ducitola hoiseni ?)

Hoi Sen's Trilobite Beetle (juv ♀)- Platerodrilus ruficollis/ Duliticola hoiseni (?)

I’ve heard of this amazing, ancient-looking Trilobite beetle but it is until my cousin stumbled upon one that I really got to see it upclosed! Its incredible that the beetle is actually very flat, with a tiny, retractable head! And most astonishing of all is that the beetle is named after my supervisor lol!


5. Fancy-loooking Caterpillar 

Caterpillar- In and Out

I am not really into caterpillars (kind of afraid of them to be honest) but this one was so exotic that I’ve decided to take some photographs. Apart from the unique form and vibrant colours, the caterpillar was eating and defecating at the same time- talk about efficiency!


4. A Funnel Web Spider (Macrothele cf. segmentata) in action

Funnel-Web Spider hunting a helpless grasshopper- Macrothele cf. segmentata ♀

Not exactly the most fancy-looking or rarest spiders around, but the funnel-web spider may potentially be the most venomous around the region. They spend most of the time in their burrows and its not at all easy to photograph them. Photograph made possible with the help of my cousins.


3. Alas, a cooperative Robberfly! 

Robberfly

If you knew me, you would understand how desperate I am at finding and photographing a Robberfly! I never really had much luck with these creatures although they are common and some of the popular among Macro Photographers around the globe. I only managed to find this one willing to pose a bit for me (very touched!). A simple shot, but very valuable to me.


2. A male Great Wide-Jawed Jumper (Parabathippus magnus)

Great Wide-Jawed Jumper- Parabathippus magnus ♂

Like the others, I have always fancied photographing Jumping Spiders, but I seldom get the chance to photograph large Jumping Spiders (easier to shoot). Found this spider around the garden and took a long time trying to photograph it; succeeded after plenty of tries, and I am glad that the spider was willing to pose abit for the camera 🙂


1. A male Greater Bluewing (Rhyothemis plutonia)

Greater Bluewing- Rhyothemis plutonia ♂

My most favourite Macro Photograph is also the most recent! A beautiful dragonfly such as this is not common to find, let alone photograph. The dull background kinds of ruin the shot, but in my opinion the striking colours really make this shot a winner~

 

Well, that’s it! My favourite Top 20 Macro Shots for the year 2014! Again the shots are not just based on aesthetic value, but inclusive of the rarity of subjects and the difficulty in getting the shots 🙂

I really look forward to 2015 (I guess all Malaysians do), and I hope that I will be able to improve my Macro skills further aside from being able to photograph more unique and exotic creatures- I still have a very long wishlist to fulfil haha! XD

Thank you for reading guys, I would like to wish you a Happy New Year and may your 2015 be filled with healthy and prosperity~!

 

** All photos in this website are taken and owned by me. The use of any photos here is not allowed without my permission.