Macro photography; The little world in my garden

I would surely have lost my mind if I hadn't been lucky enough to have a garden with so many different plants. At the time my wife had a garden from which she could draw beautiful plants. 

March 2020. Italy, at the behest of politics, entered a total lock down. You could only leave the house to bring your dog or to go shopping for food.

We were sixty million people in prison, under house arrest. During that time many had to seek the help of a psychologist to overcome the resulting depression, the number of suicides has increased alarmingly.

Especially those who lived in a small apartment suffered most of all. I would surely have lost my mind if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have a garden with so many different plants. At the time my wife had a garden from which she could draw beautiful plants. So I spent a lot of time striding across the lawn while feeling as helpless as a lion in the zoo park. While we were captive, depressed, stuck and forced into our lives, spring was exploding with all its strength and splendid energy. The insects arrived, reproduced and changed their population as the temperature rose a few degrees as the season progressed towards summer.

I have always been fascinated by macro photography but in my long career I had never seriously dedicated myself to this discipline. Here, now it seemed to me the right time had come.

Given my condition I could have plunged into the atom instead of wandering among the stars of the sky. A way to “transform poison into medicine” as the Buddhist master Nichiren Daishonin said in Japan in the 1200s. It was necessary to adapt the equipment to the new challenge so I bought the famous 65 mm lens. Canon macro to mount on my 6D SLR. A very difficult lens to use and built only for enthusiasts and specialists who are dedicated to photography at a very short distance. In fact, you can only do macro push photography, with reproduction ratios ranging from 1: 1 minimum up to 1: 5. The elongation of the tube is truly remarkable and the more it extends, the more the nominal diaphragm opening becomes extremely small, forcing you to slow shutter speeds with all the problems that this entails. For example, it is almost impossible to photograph outdoors even if there is only a faint gust of wind that makes the grass and vegetable stems move. Let’s not talk about the depth of field which is so laughable that usually the lens is used in stacking on a tripod, that is, several photos are taken at different distances (a few fractions of a millimeter) and then merged together with Photoshop.

I decided to use it with a sixteen aperture and freehand, with the help of a small flash. It was a beautiful adventure that led me to immerse myself in a magical world made of alien shapes and crazy colors, of extraordinary beauty. Observing the world so closely you discover things that could not even be imagined with the naked eye. Turning your gaze to Nature in such a specialized way requires maximum concentration, you need to develop infinite patience guided by a great will to obtain the result. Not a casual, superficial photograph, but a programming, a planning, a continuous search for the position and the moment, as required by a portrait in the studio … but on microscopic animals that sometimes move very quickly. That’s why I saved my mind thanks to this, because this type of photography is a real form of meditation. I found that ants are hairy and suck the droppings of plant lice, that ladybugs are shy and keep hiding while you try to catch them, that bedbugs have masked eggs (damn too!). And then the flies, with their red eyes looking at you by the thousands, while the cicadas are covered in wax that they wear like a wedding dress and the spiders are fantastic creatures with many eyes in their heads. Spiders are war machines comparable to army tanks: their head is a turret that can rotate almost three hundred and sixty degrees, they are so quick to strike that they often manage to kill even poor bees.

I have noticed that some insects are more sociable than others, some for example willingly accept climbing on a stick, or a stem, where they can be photographed by placing them against the background of the sky. Operation that makes things more difficult because in addition to the insect that moves continuously on the stem you must also take pictures holding the camera with one hand. Thus was born a series of images that have a great value for me and that I love very much because they will always remind me how I managed not to go crazy during the lock down thanks to photography and the great variety of insects that populate my garden.

GiBi Peluffo

I did a lot of things in my career as an amateur before and as a professional after. From travel reports, to news, sports, current events but, given my vocation, I would like to be remembered as a humanitarian photographer. I worked for Emergency in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Sudan and the Central African Republic. For Unicef in the Republic of Moldova, for the Children's Rights Forum of Chernobyl in Belarus and for the Carmelite Fathers of the Infant Jesus of Prague in the Central African Republic. Currently I perform studio portraits, wedding services, ballet in the theater, shows, advertising and tourism promotion for companies and municipalities. I take valuable photos of different genres dedicated to the production of websites for companies. Since 1994 I have continued to offer my personal photographic course which teaches how to see photographically.

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