Up close with a Larrinae wasp. Full flash, handheld, F13, 1/200, ISO100, MP-E65 lens, diffused MT-24EX.

A picture says more than a 1000 words. From time to time, MALAYSIA INSIGHTS therefore introduces photographers and websites with quality photos taken in Malaysia.

Featured today in our series PICTURE MALAYSIA is Kurt, also known as “orionmystery”. He is an expert for macro photography and shares tips for macro/nature photography in his blog“Up Close With Nature”.  Besides, he conducts macro workshops in Borneo and Thailand on a regular basis.

More of his images can be found at Flickr

image001Name: Kurt (orionmystery)
Based in: Kuala Lumpur
Photographer since: 2007
Main cameras/lenses: Canon 40D, 70D, Canon MP-E65 1X – 5X macro lens, Tamron 60mm F2 macro lens, Sigma 150mm F2.8 macro lens, Venus 60mm 2:1 macro lens, Canon MT-24EX Twin Lite, Canon 270EX speedlite, Nissin i40 speedlite, Fotopro tripod.

Kurt, I came across your photography on facebook and was immediately struck by your terrific macro photography of spiders and insects. What was there first, your interest in insects or in photography?
I am a photographer in the first place, but when I started with macro photography I naturally became interested in what I captured through my lens. Macro has really opened up a whole new world for me. The more I get to know my macro subjects (mainly arthropods), the more I am in love with them. What started out as a hobby has turned into a great passion!

And luckily you share your passion with the world via Facebook…
…not only Facebook, I actively post in some ten macro photography forums as well.

Is there any message behind your posting activity?
I hope to promote environmental awareness through my macro/nature images. Invertebrates maybe small, but they are the majority. Without them, our ecosystem will collapse in no time! For the past couple of years, I have been fascinated by frogs, lizards and snakes as well.

How did your passion for photography start, can you give our readers a short sum up?
I bought my first camera, a film Point & Shoot before I went on a 2-week trip to New Zealand in 1996. Not too long after that, I upgraded to a film SLR. I had a macro lens too at that time but never really got into macro photography because film development and photo printing were quite expensive. Besides, I was only interested in landscape and travel photography at that time.

So when did you actually start shooting macro photos?
About 10 years later, in 2007, while browsing some macro images in a few local forums. I found myself amazed by the details in the insect images that we didn’t get to see with our naked eyes. That really sparked my interest in macro. I bought my DSLR and a 1:1 macro lens in July 17, 2007, and started doing macro photography seriously since then. However, after about a year, I started yearning for more magnification and The Canon MP-E65 1X-5X macro lens seemed like a natural choice for me. I switched to Canon just because of this wonderful lens. I later also acquired the Canon MT-24EX Twin Flash to complete my macro rig. All my images here were shot with a Canon 40D, either with the MP-E65 and lit with the MT-24EX Twin Flash, or Sigma 150mm, with or without a 1.4x tele-converter, with natural light.

Where are your favourite locations in Malaysia for macro photography?
I really don’t have favorite locations. Different places have different flora and fauna to offer. My fascination with lanternflies (Fulgoridae) has taken me to many national parks in Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, and Thailand.

I would think a lot of your preferred models can turn out to be pretty dangerous. What do you do to protect yourself? How close do you get to your motives?
It is really important to know your models well: their behaviours, habitats, etc. These not only make it easier to find and photograph them, but also how close you can or should get to them!

Is there anything beginners should be aware of when starting doing macro photography?
3 P’s: Passion, Patience and Practice – that’s what I always tell my workshop participants and beginners in macro photography.
Passion: you need to have passion for macro photography and you need to find your macro subjects fascinating, if not for their beauty, then for their uniqueness!
Patience: unlike human models, arthropods and wind don’t take orders from the photographers, so be patient and wait for the right moment and shoot more to increase the likelihood of getting a keeper!
Practice: one common complaint especially for someone new in macro photography is focusing. Unfortunately, there’s really no shortcut. Turn off your AF and start practicing your manual focusing! Start with stationary subject and practice, practice, practice to improve your accuracy, and speed.

Kurt, thank you very much for your insights.
You’re welcome!


Below is a collection of Kurts picture with some description provided by him. Click on the pics to enlarge.


Please also read: PICTURE MALAYSIA: An Expat In KL

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