Top Minimal Macro Tips and Techniques

The results of the CUPOTY: Very little, are in! The winner and a choice of finalists share their pointers and techniques with competition co-founder Tracy Calder.
CUPOTY Minimal Stefan Gerrits, outline of a rabbit
Lowering a sauce takes some time: you have to prepare the ingredients, heat the liquid and wait for the water to evaporate prior to you can add your spices. Your persistence, nevertheless, will be rewarded with a concentrated liquor that’s complete of flavour and character. It takes self-confidence to reduce something to what’s important, and you need to trust that this stripping back will lead to something full-bodied.

In art, you can see this confident removing back in the work of painters such as Agnes Martin, Piet Mondrian and Robert Ryman. In photography you can see it in work by Michael Kenna, Fan Ho and Hiroshi Sugimoto, to name a few. If you study the oeuvre of these artists, you’ll see that absolutely nothing is consisted of by chance– whatever in the frame adds to the story.

Looking for this special alcohol, for the latest CUPOTY difficulty ( in association with Affinity Photo 2) we asked professional photographers for work that fits the description ‘Minimal’. Essentially, we were looking for tidy, uncluttered images with minimal aspects and/or unified colours. What we got was a lot more. Everything from stink bugs to springtails and plant seeds were put before the judges– each picture a lovely example of how simplifying a scene can magnify its message.

Congratulations to Ferenc Kocsis for taking the leading spot with his shot of a Danube mayfly. If you wish to keep up to date with the most recent CUPOTY news, consisting of information of this year’s primary competition, go to our site. And to see the shortlisted entries for the CUPOTY Challenge: Minimal, see

‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Benjamin Salb
Information of a Rough Stink Bug
CUPOTY Minimal Benjamin Salb, stink bug against black background
Picture credit: Benjamin Salb/CUPOTY.

Nationality: American.

Occupation: IT manager.

‘ I enjoy discovering concealed information within ordinary macro subjects and this rough stink bug was no exception. I encountered it while on a 4am macro hunt last fall. It was a cold early morning and the few topics I did find didn’t move that much, if at all. As a result, I was able to position the stick that the stink bug was resting on in the air to isolate it from the background and flaunt its complicated details. The image was caught as a handheld focus bracket of 17 frames (integrated in Helicon Focus).’.

Ben’s Minimal Macro leading suggestions:.
Cold early mornings are excellent for finding still macro topics.
If you’re a constant afternoon macro professional photographer, try changing it up!
When trying to capture a topic from overhead, position the things it’s on perpendicular to the ground (as long as the subject doesn’t mind the motion and you’re not damaging greenery).
You do not have to be as close as possible to your topic to make a fantastic macro shot. Consider backing off and decreasing zoom to see a more total scene.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Alex Pansier.
Outer Space.
CUPOTY Minimal Alex Pansier
Picture credit: Alex Pansier/CUPOTY.

Citizenship: Dutch.

Occupation: Photographer.

‘ This is not Earth from deep space, however the swirling body of an elephant seal. A few years ago, I went on a photo tour to Antarctica with a stopover in South Georgia. The beaches were brimming with fur seals and elephant seals. This particular one was so relaxed that I managed to picture it quietly with some nice backlight in low profile– my favourite style.’.

Alex’s Minimal Macro top suggestions:.
When you’re photographing wildlife, do your research– not just will it assist you to get a better photo, however it will also make sure that you are not troubling your topic.
Less is more. Think about what attracted you to a subject and do your best to play down or remove everything else.
Photography is all about light, so search for examples where it emphasises kind, or draws attention to unusual aspects.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Winner: Ferenc Kocsis.
In Her Wedding Dress.
CUPOTY Minimal Ferenc Kocsis, mayflies flying against the night sky
Picture credit: Ferenc Kocsis/CUPOTY.

Citizenship: Hungarian.

Profession: Economist.

‘ This female Danube mayfly, inflamed with egg clusters, flies over the Danube River in Hungary and lays its eggs near where it was born. The larvae that live in the riverbed hatch in April, and in the last stage of their development, in August, they fly for the last dance of their one-year life.’.

Ferenc’s Minimal Macro leading suggestions:.
The most essential thing is to be there. Danube mayflies fly in August for about a week and fly at nightfall for just an hour or two.
Light is required to see and photograph them. A small flashlight suffices as they’re brought in to light, however it’s really essential to just use a flashlight above the river and at a certain height, to ensure the mayflies do not lay their eggs on the bank.
I utilize a wideangle lens with great magnification close to the topic. Danube mayflies determine a few centimetres, but they fly quickly and a flashlight is necessary to freeze their movements.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Gabi Swart.

Image credit: Gabi Swart/CUPOTY.
CUPOTY Minimal Gabi Swart. close up of a spider against a white background
Nationality: German.

Profession: Geologist.

‘ A spider had actually spun its web right in front of our attic window, permitting me to photograph it versus the sky. Due to overexposing by one f-stop, it appeared practically plastic and transparent. The open aperture and the overexposure made the spider’s web disappear.’.

Gabi’s Minimal Macro leading pointers:.
Look for opportunities near to house. One of the pleasures of close-up photography is that you do not need to take a trip far to discover ideal topics. To quote Beaumont Newhall, ‘We are not interested in the usual, however in the typical seen uncommonly.’.
Do not hesitate to overexpose to soft-pedal distracting details. The electronic camera is not constantly right– use your own judgement, and do experiment.
Try to get as much as you can right in-camera.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Krisztina Mácsai.
Stand By.
CUPOTY Minimal Krisztina Macsai
Image credit: Krisztina Mácsai/ CUPOTY.

Nationality: Hungary.

Profession: Call centre group leader.

‘ I was walking with co-students of my photography class in the forests of Normafa, Budapest, searching for interesting macro subjects. It was autumn and the forest was full of Cyclosa spiders. I browsed to discover one of these orb-weavers that would allow me to photo it at this uncommon angle. I needed to be very careful not to damage its web. At the time the image was taken, I was in between macro lenses, so I had to return to my tried and evaluated mix: the “nifty-50” with extension tubes. Once again, this set-up did not dissatisfy me.’.

Krisztina’s Minimal Macro leading suggestions:.
Keep the shutter speed high, and use a flash to produce a good, dark background.
Be careful not to destroy a web. The well-being of your topic comes.
Deal with what you’ve got. You do not need a dedicated macro lens to get close-up photos. Try out more affordable alternatives such as extension tubes and close-up accessory filters.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY 2nd Place: Paul Gravett.
Colour Study 39.
CUPOTY Minimal Paul Gavett, abstract minimal photography
Picture credit: Paul Gavett/CUPOTY.

Nationality: Canadian.

Occupation: Photographer.

‘ Despite their painterly appearances, each Colour Study starts with a cam and a series of photos of papers and colour acetates, layered 3 to five deep on a stack of glass shelves. The images are layered and combined in the computer to develop abstractions that reference modern art, consisting of pointillism, colour fields, transparencies, collage and painterly strategies. The hallmark of this experimental process is unpredictability and discovery, resulting in startling and unanticipated images that blur the limit of photography and modern art, tricking the eye and screening our presumptions about photography.’.

Paul’s Minimal Macro leading ideas:.
Embrace the unknown and unpredictable. You may have that unpleasant feeling of walking blindfolded over unstable terrain, however you will find yourself on brand-new creative paths that result in imaginative places you did not know existed.
Do not be afraid of errors: they may not be prepared, however can be an entrance to new imaginative concepts.
Forget the rules and simply experiment. Step far from the familiar, and explore your skills and tools in new and innovative ways. Keep an open mind and eye, and have fun.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Lovre Culina.
Murky Waters.
CUPOTY Minimal, crocodile's head visible just outside the water
Image credit: Lovre Culina/CUPOTY.

Nationality: Croatian/ British.

Occupation: Photographer.

‘ This bird’s- eye view of an American crocodile was made over the Tárcoles River of Costa Rica, from a bridge. This had remained in my mind’s eye for a while and, as I knew the location well, I had actually hoped to find a crocodile positioned perfectly in the water simply under the bridge. Regrettably, the dream composition wasn’t to be, and I needed to extend my arms out, get a shot and crop and turn it later on to get the picture I desired. Crocodiles are ambush predators and spend the majority of their time being still and waiting. My goal was to depict this unbelievable marvel of nature in its element, while leaving the viewer somewhat uncertain about what is being revealed.’.

Lovre’s Minimal Macro leading ideas:.
Keep your structure simple and try to remove distracting elements. If you can’t get what you want ‘in the field’ do not hesitate to make minor adjustments.
Prioritise quality over quantity. Concentrate on a single types for days or weeks and this intimacy (and understanding) will actually show in your work.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Jane van Bostelen.
Lily Tip.
CUPOTY Minimal Jane van Bostelen, close up of lily flower
Photo credit: Jane van Bostelen/CUPOTY.

Citizenship: British.

Occupation: Graphic designer.

‘ I like the lovely trumpet-shape of the calla lily and wished to produce a very little, uncluttered image with basic lines. After shooting from various angles, I found the greatest composition to be one where the suggestion of the petal remained in focus and the rest was tossed out of focus using a shallow depth of field. I utilized a studio lightbox with LED lighting and a green background so that the shapes looked strong, and the colours complemented each other.’.

Jane’s Minimal Macro top pointers:.
Pick a flower with a strong structural shape and, unless decay is going to be the topic of your work, make sure the specimen is in great condition. Shooting at high magnifications will reveal every tear and acne.
When you think you’ve got the shot ‘in the bag’ stay with the topic a little longer and keep experimenting with different angles.
Tripods take some time to set up, which can be off-putting for some, however utilizing one will increase your hit rate exponentially.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY 3rd Place: Stefan Gerrits.
Goose Bumps.
CUPOTY Minimal Stefan Gerrits, outline of a rabbit
Image credit: Stefan Gerrits/CUPOTY.

Nationality: Finnish.

Profession: Photographer.

‘ In Varanger, Norway, a mountain hare (Lepus timidus) sits quietly in a snowstorm really close to midnight. It was a rough winter season night in the extremely far north of Norway, I was sitting down, and my goodness I was cold, chilled to the bone, awaiting signs of life. Thankfully, I got lucky. This hare seemed to have some kind of piloerection (the equivalent of human goosebumps), which made its hair stand on end. I underexposed by 4EV and utilized a slow shutter speed (1/13sec) to change the snow into flashes of light.’.

Stefan’s Minimal Macro leading tips:.
Ensure you dress well for winter season shoots.
Attempt to underexpose or overexpose greatly. By doing so, certain information will end up being too dark, or too bright, to be seen. This will assist you to produce a minimalist image.
‘ Minimal’ CUPOTY Finalist: Kristina Zvinakeviciute.
CUPOTY Minimal Kristina Zvinakeviciute, two shells
Picture credit: Kristina Zvinakeviciute/CUPOTY.

Citizenship: Lithuanian.

Occupation: Photographer.

I had a concept to establish the picture of this little shell in a different method, by using the mirror impact in Photoshop. (I cropped, turned and adjusted the shot in Photoshop before utilizing the mirror result. The result pleasantly shocked me, as it looked like wings or a heart.’.

Kristina’s Minimal Macro leading pointers:.
Even the most common subjects can be caught in a fresh way if you adopt a childish curiosity. Picture you are experiencing an item for the first time and look at it as a series of shapes, colours and lines instead of becoming fixated on what it in fact is.
Don’t be afraid to use the photo as a beginning point. Adding an impact, or in this case 2– mirror and texture– can cause fresh discoveries and uncommon interpretations.
Look up and look down. Look down on it, under it, or in it (if possible).


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