I’ve said before that I’m much more comfortable in the studio than outside in the wilderness when it comes to taking photos, but there is one feature of the great outdoors that beats the studio almost every time, and that is the ease of finding interesting backgrounds.
When I started out photographing toys I didn’t pay much attention to backgrounds. Isolate the subject, blur out the background using a long macro lens and wide aperture, forget about it. Turns out it doesn’t always work out that well. Blurring a distracting background just makes a blurred distracting background.
A few years ago I started actively trying to include more of the environment in my photographs rather than try to make it go away. This was about the time I discovered Steve McCurry’s work and his beautiful environmental portraits from the far east. It made me want to emulate that in the macro world (something I still haven’t come close to pulling off).
I even purchased a few lenses that most people didn’t know existed, wide-angle macro lenses. The 35mm lens I have will focus close enough for me to use LEGO figures, but give me a field of view closer to the human eye and includes a lot of the surroundings. The sort of field of view you’d get with a phone camera. So yes, I have spent a lot of money to basically be able to take photos with my DSLR that look like they were taken on a phone.
Today that’s still my favourite view on the macro world, a ‘normal’ field of view, but at a smaller scale. Always striving for more realism :)