Macro-photographers, do they exist? A quick search on any search engine confirms that they don’t, but we think they just might. Meet Andrew George, a Dutch nature, wildlife & travel photographer who sees things in a very special way.
For Andrew, the appreciation of nature and wildlife started at an early age. This appreciation steadily grew over the years until, in 2002, a visit to Iceland sealed his passion. Iceland’s remarkable landscape moved him so much that he wished to preserve its beauty visually. He soon thereafter joined a photography course, which deepened his passion for photography. Of all its genres, macro photography became a particular interest, here he shares why:
‘I already was interested in nature and its beauty when I was very young. Together with my father, who was a passionate gardener, and my uncle, a biologist, I often explored nature in the local woods and even in our own backyard. I took a lot of pictures, even when on holiday, and I was amazed by the photos I could take creatively, shooting the subjects I love. Then one day, while I was looking through a macro lens, I discovered what appeared to me as a whole “new world”. I could see nature in a way I couldn’t see with the naked eye, I was amazed and hooked!’
The drive & confidence
Although Andrew finds his main employment as a medical technician, he considers himself a semi-professional nature & wildlife photographer. Driven by the sheer passion for photography, Andrew entered some of the biggest photography competitions in the world and won a number of awards.
This also meant that his photography was seen by a large community across the world, which gained him interesting photography projects, critical contacts, publications, exhibitions, and much more.
The curiosity, imagination & vision
When it comes to macro photography, having the combination of enjoying and appreciating nature is the main source of Andrew’s inspiration, which he enjoys every single day. But it takes more than just being inspired, as Andrew shares, ‘It isn’t enough to just seek inspiration from nature. As a photographer, I have to actively keep an open mind, follow my heart and stick to my own vision. Also, persistence is as important as enjoying! A good and healthy combination of all of these elements will result in stunning photography.’
Andrew likes to revisit the same places near his home, often in different seasons and weather conditions. By doing so, he endeavours to continually refine his knowledge, both of wild life photography as well as the behaviour of wildlife, discovering patterns in their daily routines and understanding how best to capture them.
Andrew’s interest doesn’t stop at wildlife. He is also drawn to other subjects like interesting light, colours, contrast, structures, patterns etc.
To shoot macro, you have to think macro
‘Less is more’ takes on literal dimensions when it comes to shooting macro photography. Andrew invites us to take a look at what that is like:
‘I like to look at small subjects like a kind of tiny landscape or world of its own. The ‘less is more’ concept plays a big role in my photography. The subject needs to stand out from the rest and the environment needs to be less dominant or a bit dreamy most of the time.’
‘Like many photographers, I also like to experiment with different points of view and lenses. Using a large aperture is essential for shallow depth of fields, to create the dreamy environments. It can also be very helpful to achieve large bokeh circles which can create artistic effects the photos.’
‘If I have a good feeling and some sort of connection with the subjects, then I start to develop new ideas based on what I observe. If possible I revisit the same subject under different weather or light conditions. This is an ongoing process that gets into my heart and head, evolving new ideas and combining experiments from the past subjects. When I’m one with the subject the process becomes like a sixth sense.’
Typical shooting day for macro photography
For Andrew, planning a day out shooting starts the night before. Usually, Andrew heads out to a pre-selected location before sunrise.
‘Early in the morning nature slowly awakens and the light conditions are soft, and gradually become stronger. Fog and dew covered insects are easier to photograph as they can’t walk or fly away. When I see an interesting scene I start photographing for a few hours before returning home. Once I’ve taken a break and eaten, I charge my batteries and download the photos from that morning. Depending on the weather conditions I go out again before or after sunset for another round of shooting, much in the same way as I did in the morning. No matter how busy it gets, I make sure I am out shooting two to three times a week, photographing a few hours during different times of day or night.’
Post processing macro photography
As Andrew shares with us, before he gets to post processing, he makes every effort to achieve the best result possible while out in the field, so as to make only minor adjustments in post processing.
‘I shoot my photos in RAW so I have maximum control and resolution. I normally adjust (if needed) white balance, levels, curves, some colour saturation and lens corrections. Another area to focus on is shadow/highlights to recover the finest details. With the clarity option in Lightroom, you can soften a photo for a more dreamy effect. I like to adjust this too with some photos.
‘Personally for me, post processing is more an opportunity to gain insight of how to improve a certain shot for the next time I head back to the same location. It isn’t about making a photograph perfect, but more about learning how I can improve my technique and understanding more about nature and wildlife.’
When asked which lens he would like to try, with little hesitation Andrew selects the new AF-S Nikkor 105mm f/1.4, ‘I can only imagine the bokeh I can achieve with the F/1.4 and it would be excellent for low light photography. It’s definitely an ideal lens for shooting my macro subjects in the local woods or nearby fen.’
Andrew has recently started ‘Art Amphibians’: a new series he’s keen to explore. For these creatures, water is an ever-present backdrop, an interesting setting that offers endless possibilities for the macro shooter with a keen eye.
Enjoyed what you read? Stay tuned! In the coming weeks we will share ‘Octopus’: a special macro project by Andrew. In the meantime, you can see more of his work here.