David Muñiz tries to focus on the tiny moments that make life special. As a “macro photographer,” his focus is almost exclusively on the big, little picture.
His interest in macro photography was inspired by an afternoon spent in his grandmother’s garden as he watched a cocoon hang delicately from the branch of a blooming lemon tree. As he waited patiently, the cocoon cracked and the butterfly inside struggled to escape. Sodden, it remained on a leaf while its wings dried. Nearly an hour later, it spread its wings. Akilter at first, it was soon airborne. David captured it all on his camera.
We caught up with David to learn all of the tips and tricks behind macro photography.
Get the right gear
David alternates between photographing with his smartphone and his camera. If he’s on the go, phone in tow, he’ll use the Moment Macro lens, which can be adapted to a number of different phone models. He shares that the working distance on macro photography is less than an inch, which makes this lens perfect for capturing the tiny details your phone wouldn’t normally be able to focus on.
When he shoots with his camera, he says that he likes to use a Canon G16, a compact digital camera with a fixed lens equivalent to a 28-140mm.
Focus on what interests you
“Macro photography opens a new world that our naked eye can’t see,” David says. “Whether it be morning dew, small details on flowers, or insects.
As I grew up, I realized that many people avoided bugs because of phobias, without realizing how beautiful these small animals can be.”
David’s fascination with insects and his talent for macro photography inspire him to showcase the patterns and colors of various insects, while providing a safe viewing distance for the viewer. This undertaking even inspired a series (#EDavidMBugs) to showcase the interesting bugs he finds and encourage others to share their insect sightings, as well.
Take time to frame and focus
The first rule of a good macro composition image is to center on the subject, since it is the most important visual. David always decides upon the point of interest before he shoots the photo. From there, he adjusts his camera settings and opens the aperture to capture the central object in focus, while blurring the background. The focal length of the lens matters here, and David explains that the opening of the lens diaphragm influences the degree of sharpness in the background.
One challenge associated with macro photography is getting a sharp focus: David often holds his breath at the moment he presses the shutter to prevent the movement of his body from shaking the camera.
Find proper light
“Light is the key to everything,” David says. “If a photograph isn’t correctly exposed, it will be very difficult for the compositional elements to make that photograph stand out.”
He favors soft light, the kind you would see on a cloudy day. He explains that this type of light allows the volume and detail of macro photography to pop. He also likes to photograph during Golden Hour, because the warmer tones of the light often accentuate the beauty of the scene he’s shooting.
Be mindful of texture
In macro photography, the texture of the image is important. David encourages photographers to look closely at the beautiful patterns, colors, and textures that can be found in nature itself.
When David searches for subjects, he always looks under the leaves of plants, in clumps of flowers, or in the branches of the trees. He has a knack for finding insects and plants that have incredible textures and patterns that showcase nature’s perfectly symmetrical beauty.
When David edits his photos, he always uses the “Clarity” tool. He recommends using it moderately, so that the important details are not too high-contrast, otherwise they begin to look unnatural.
“In macro photography, this tool works very well to emphasize the tiny details that macro photos must have.”
Use reflection and refraction
David loves to explore at dawn for a very particular reason: early morning exploration yields to finding plants and leaves covered in early morning dew.
Adding interest to a macro photograph is easy with water droplets — the drops strikingly refract the inverse image of what is behind them. David cautions that shooting a scene like this can be tricky because finding a focus where the image is clear can take some time. You should always test the proximity of your camera to the drop to find the perfect focus.
Use color carefully:
David likes to include pastel tones in his images, so the gentle lights and shadows aren’t visually overwhelming for the viewer. He wants the color palette of his photographs to evoke the feelings that he experienced.
He notes that there are many psychological elements linked to colors: blues are considered calming colors, red ones are more rousing. He likes photographing the green tones of nature that he believes evokes feelings of serenity and harmony when viewed. When he captures photos at sunrise or sunset, he believes that the warmer colors evoke feelings of joy and intensity.
Practice makes perfect
As David says, “Experience. Learn. Fall in love, hate, and fall in love again with all possible photography styles, because only then you will find the style or styles you like most. Once you do, look for authors, see films, go to photo exhibitions, or watch music videos that have the photographic style that you are interested in. And always, ALWAYS be shooting. Remember that practice makes perfect.”
David Muñiz is a 19-years-old Visual Arts student based in Mexico City. David’s favorite art is photography — he likes to share the feelings that he felt the moment he pressed the shutter. He loves shooting golden hour in the city, aerial landscapes and macro photos of bugs.