Platypod Spotlight: Macro Photographer Justin Avery

With Justin Avery

We found the work of macro photographer Justin Avery on Instagram, where we find tons of awesome photographers, during our Platypod Macro Photography Contest running through Jan. 29. And, wow, what great entries — see for yourself at #PlatypodContest!

Justin’s purple flower image caught our attention as we were scrolling through our contest hashtag, and we decided to reach out and find out more about the person behind the picture.

Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you go?

I am Justin Avery and my day job is a software developer. I enjoy problem-solving and working with technology. I also have kids in hockey and have recently started coaching for youth hockey. I am always looking for opportunities to get involved in different experiences to enjoy life a little more. As I get older I don't want to look back and regret the things I didn't do, but think about the things I have done. Life is too short and there are too many things to do. Instead of trying to think of what to do, I like to just pick something and do it.

How did you get into photography and what is your area of focus?

Initially, I got into photography because I wanted to photograph my kids. I quickly found out that I did not have a passion for portrait photography. I decided that since I spent the money and time on a DSLR camera, I would put it to good use. Through a year of trying to figure things out, I found out that I enjoy doing landscape and macro photography very much. I'm not one to enjoy repetition, so instead of shooting the same things over and over, I decided to think of different ways to enjoy photography.

My primary focus for photography seems to be split between different types of landscape and macro photography. I am always looking at different ways to shoot something where I can really show what is interesting about the subject in more of an artistic way. After getting speedlight for my camera, I decided to see how it could help me with my macro work. I have found that regardless if I shoot indoors or outdoors, the flash really helps with giving me the ability to have full control of the light in order to create the shadows that I want to get a look I am happy with.

Something I find I am always doing with my camera is putting it upside down on my tripod. I do this to give me the advantage of getting close to the ground. Not only does this help in some macro situations, but it also helps with getting a different view for landscape photos. Taking a photo at ground level gives the viewer a different experience than a photo taken at eye level. Because of this different view, it can make the photo more interesting as it is a view that is not often seen.

Taking a photo at ground level gives the viewer a different experience than a photo taken at eye level. Because of this different view, it can make the photo more interesting as it is a view that is not often seen.

Gorgeous purple flower pic! Tell us about this image — what was your gear set-up and is there a story behind this photo?

Macro Photography by Justin Avery

It is hard to choose a favorite, but this photo is among my top favorites for the flower photos I have taken. I do not know what kind of flower it was, but it was part of a bouquet of flowers. I had bought a bouquet of flowers for my wife. I did not pick them out for the purpose of taking photos of them, but decided that since they were there I would see what I could come up with.

With some extra time on my hands and some creative thinking, I put my camera on the tripod, got out my flash, and started to see what I could come up with.

For this particular photo, I was using the Nikon D610 with the Nikon 105 f/2.8 Macro lens. I had my camera on the tripod pointing straight down at the flower and had the flash above the flower as well but using a reflector that is part of the flash to bounce the light onto the flower rather than using direct light. This helps with more even soft light rather than harsh light that can cause overblown highlights in different areas. I took multiple photos with the flash held in different positions and this was the best photo out of the group. What really stood out for me on this flower was the way the pollen looked like frosting on the flower.

What are your top challenges with shooting macro?

My top challenges with shooting macro are depth of field, unique angles, and time. Because there is such a shallow depth of field, if I want to get most of the photo in focus, I need to shoot a more flat surface of the subject. Because that doesn't always give me the photo I want, I have also learned how to do focus stacking with macro photography. This does increase the amount of work, so I find that I am very particular about the photos I want to take. Getting unique angles to really show off a subject can be a challenge due to both the depth of field and the time it takes to create the end result from focus stacking.

Macro Photography by Justin Avery

What are your top 3 tips for shooting macro?

My 3 tips for shooting macro are patience, experiment, and keep a creative mind. I have shot macro shots with my phone that come out as good as the ones I shoot with my DSLR. The camera doesn't matter as much as these as long as you are willing to learn how to shoot macro.

Macro photography needs a lot of patience. Shooting very small subjects can be difficult and the focus plane is continuously moving. Using a tripod really helps with this but even with a tripod, your photos might not be sharp where you want them to be. Manually changing the focus can cause the camera to move slightly which will result in needing to refocus again. Also, when shooting moving subjects, it becomes even more difficult and can take many photos and hours to get what you want.

Enter the Platypod Macro Photography Contest now through 1/29/19!

Experimenting is how I found what works and doesn't work for me. I could explain and show how I shoot macro photography, but it might not work for someone else. I have found that sometimes a tripod works and sometimes it doesn't. Through experimenting with and without the flash I am able to find what helps make the photo stand out. Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don't. In the end, I shoot for myself. If I'm not happy with the results, then I didn't do something right, so I go back and experiment more with composition and lighting to get a photo that makes me happy.

Macro Photography by Justin Avery

Keeping a creative mind really helps with creating something that is sure to make you happy. Many times when I'm shooting flowers I'll have a spray bottle that will mist. This way I can shoot photos as the flower is, then I will mist some water to see what it looks like with water droplets. Sometimes the transition makes the photos pop more and other times it doesn't.

Putting a subject in different types of environments might make the photo pop more. Moving around the subject to get a different background can give the photo a different look. It is hard to look at something and know how your macro lens will see it. It is harder to know how different lighting will cause a different look. Being creative with your lighting and subject can create many great photos from a single subject.

Enter the Platypod Macro Photography Contest now through 1/29/19!

We love to post stories of Platypod users and their experiences with the product. If you are interested in being featured, please email ajna@platypod.com.

Ajna Adams