Magical Macro Creatures – with Nicky Bay
Nicky Bay is a macro photographer specialized in capturing the beauty of the small world. Here is an exclusive interview with Nicky.
Gaurav : Your pictures of mirror spiders are splendid, where do you find these small wonders ? every macro photography lover would like to know that.
Nicky: They are actually not too uncommon, just that they tend to be really inconspicuous and overlooked. I usually find them dangling under leaves when at rest. Even mature specimens are less than 1cm long, so many photographers are not too keen to photograph them, especially if they are actively running around.
Gaurav : Macro lovers all over are very much obsessed with ids of their subjects. What is your take on this? Does a better ID make a better macro photographer ?
Nicky: IDs are great to have. Unfortunately, many macro photographers are unaware of the key characteristics to look out for in identifying their subjects. Many would rely on the internet to give names based on photographs that look superficially like what they had shot. This is a common but grave mistake.
In getting an accurate ID, one must understand that getting a specific ID can often be an impossible task, even for an expert. Photographs alone are often insufficient for identification. For example, examination of the spider’s copulatory organs are necessary for accurate identification. I usually identify only down to family, and then to genus if I’m very familiar with that taxonomic group or consult the respective experts in the taxonomic group.
Yes, better IDs do make a better macro photographer. In the process of identifying, one should learn more on the subject, on its behavior, on its habitat and its biology. Arming oneself with such knowledge helps a lot in finding the subjects and getting the right shots.
Gaurav : Were you always a macro lover. How did you start ?
Nicky : There are two types of macro photographers. One shoots first and then learns about the subjects, while the other knows a lot on the subjects and wants to photograph them. I belong to the former. There was no specific starting point – I had a camera and explored around with all things small after seeing some excellent close ups by others in local forums.
Gaurav : Your ultraviolet macro pictures is another gem in your portfolio. does it require special equipment ? tell us more about it.
Nicky : It requires an ultraviolet light directed at the subject, with lots of luck and patience. Most of the work is in finding a suitable subject. The rest is just basic photography to get the exposure right.
Gaurav : Your series of the ‘Worlds Smallest Architecture’ is very inspiring. You clearly have a diverse macro portfolio with each category better that the other. Where does your inspiration come from ?
Nicky : I have a very extensive collection of photographs on Flickr, with many untold stories and discoveries within. I try to note down interesting subjects which I could expand on, and dig my archives to write on the topic of choice. Many are unaware of the micro world, and the articles I write creates a window for the general public into this fascinating realm.
Gaurav : How do you plan to spread your knowledge to other macro lovers across the world ? How do Macro lovers in India make the best out of what you have to offer ?
Nicky : I have been focusing on producing content on the interesting invertebrates that I’ve seen. That has been one of the biggest draws to entice macro photographers to get out into the field more often. I would discourage spending too much time figuring out the technical setup, and spending more time hunting for interesting subjects in the field.
Gaurav : Is there any Id that you are madly in search of and yet to find ? what’s next for Nicky bay ? Any future projects that you would like to tell us about ?
Nicky : Every new subject (a lifer) is exciting to me. My wish list is ever growing as I read about them, so there really isn’t a single one that I’m madly after.
I’m working on a book on spiders with other arachnologists, but it is an on-going project and is expected to take a very long time to complete! I am also exploring options to merge macro photography into natural science education programmes but they are at very early stages.
Gaurav : What is your advice for aspiring macro photographers ? What is that one thing that really matters to be a great macro photographer ?
Nicky : Take the time to learn about your subjects. Don’t get overly obsessed with magnification and your gear.