Alberto Ghizzi Panizza is one of the most innovative, talented and unique macro photographers in Europe. With a career spanning almost two decades, the Italian is a recognised master of the art of macro, holding several awards to his name for projects that reveal the hidden beauty of nature up-close.
As a dedicated lover of Nikon cameras and NIKKOR lenses, Alberto has been a member of Nikon Professional Services since 2013. When we started looking for someone to put our range of Micro-NIKKOR lenses to the test, in one of Europe’s most unique locations, we couldn’t think of anyone more perfect for the job…
By Alberto Ghizzi Panizza
Revealing the world’s hidden wonders
For me, photography is all about showing the beauty of the world around us and the wonders which can be found. That is what inspires me in every photo I take and every venture I embark on, and I have been lucky enough to work on some fascinating projects throughout my career.
Nikon plays a huge part in my life as a professional photographer – its camera bodies and lenses have dominated my kitbag for the last two decades, and I am constantly inspired by its products and technological advances.
This enables me to always push the boundaries of what is possible, especially when it comes to macro photography and using technology to reveal things which are invisible to the naked human eye. When Nikon approached me to embark on a macro photography project using Micro-NIKKOR lenses to explore the ‘beauty of rust’, I jumped at the chance to get involved!
A location like no other
Over a few days in March, we shot at the beautiful “Bilkyrkogården Kyrkö Mosse” – a car “cemetery” near Ryd, Linköping, Sweden.
With over 60 cars left abandoned to decay in the swampy forest floor, what struck me most about this location was the way Mother Nature was taking back her domain, growing into and around the sinking cars. It was a fascinating place.
Armed with the AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G, AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR and the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED, we set about trying to capture this stark contradiction through the eye of these incredible macro lenses.
The right lens for the right shot
When you put a macro lens onto your camera, a whole new world opens, revealing things you would never be able to see with your own eyes. Picking the right lens for the right shot is key, and this project allowed me to experiment with some of Nikon’s best Micro-NIKKOR lenses.
The AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED is the longest lens we used on the shoot, and was perfect for isolating certain parts of the junkyard and cars within it. Used with the Nikon D810, the long focal distance allows you to stay further away from the subject, and its narrow in depth of field means you can easily isolate the subject from the background.
My favourite aspect of this lens is the vibration reduction (VR), which means I don’t have to rely on tripods to get that all-important shot. What’s more, Nikon’s Nano crystal coating technology is also very important for taking pictures with backlights. A normal lens often creates flare, but this isn’t a problem for the AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.
If I was forced to bring just one lens with me to any project, it would be this one.
Turning to the Nikon D500, the next lens we tried was the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G. Its vari-angle screen proves very useful in creating more complicated compositions.
This is my preferred lens to take pictures of very small subjects, as it is light, compact and has a short-focal distance.
I also often use this lens when capturing the water droplet images, which have become my signature style. For this shoot, I used the stalk of a plant and a syringe to delicately hang and position the droplets in front of the lens. The compact AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G allows you to get extremely close, perfect for capturing the reflection of the car in these tiny droplets. This is a great example of being able to fully immerse yourself in the world of macro photography and as you can see, the result is pretty special.
The AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR is an extremely sharp lens, which is particularly useful when you want to capture extreme detail of a certain texture or, in the case of the Bilkyrkogården Kyrkö Mosse, the colourful and beautiful erosion of Mother Nature.
Like the AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, its long focal length means you can stand further back when capturing the shot, and the ED-glass (extra-low dispersion) also helps avoid any chromatic aberration, which can sometimes occur when a lens fails to focus. This is vital in macro photography, and enables you to capture intricate images like this, which shows lichen growing on a car bonnet in close detail.
Another favourite lens of mine is the AF-S Micro NIKKOR 60mm f/2.8G ED lens, a lightweight, full-frame lens, great for capturing focal sequences, and perfect with the Nikon D810. It has an unrivalled depth-of-field, and can capture all the detail which the 36 MP sensor of the Nikon D810 can reach. What’s particularly special is the way it helps me capture that all-important 1:1 ratio. The lens tells me how many millimetres away from the subject I need to be. It also has a close-range-correction system to make sure the subject remains undisturbed.
Macro lens misconceptions
A lot of people think macro lenses can only take up-close photos, but this isn’t the case. Whether you’re taking a portrait or landscape shot, these lenses are versatile to be used for a range of projects.
Although we were challenged by the elements in Sweden (rain, snow and even sunshine!), this shoot was extremely special for me; allowing me to put my skills to the test and capture a subject I have never engaged with before. In a location like this, rust is just as beautiful as any other part of nature, and I hope this inspires other photographers to explore it as a subject.
You can find out more about Alberto’s work with Nikon to capture the Beauty of Rust here.
Based in Italy, Alberto Ghizzi Panizza is a renowned European photographer and member of Nikon Professional Services. Since 2014, Alberto has been administrator of several photographic groups on Facebook and exhibits his pictures at the Fogg Art Photo Gallery. He has an abundance of accolades to his name, including first prize at the Oasis International Photo Contest 2012, first prize at the Natural Worlds International Photo Contest 2015 and Not Indoor Photographer of the Year in 2016. You can find out more about his amazing work by visiting his website: http://www.albertoghizzipanizza.com or by following him on Instagram and Facebook.