If you were to pick a favourite wildlife image, what would you choose? A roaring lion, a tiger walking stealthily through the grasslands or perhaps a peacock displaying its feathers in all its glory? Okay, now how about if you look closer – at your immediate surroundings – the grass beneath your feet or the plants in your backyard? You will find that this world has a life of its own. Where grasshoppers, butterflies, spiders and numerous other life forms fight for food, build homes and procreate as they strive to survive in this complex world. One way of revealing the intricacies of their lives is through macro photography.

The many eyes of a spider, the eyespots on a butterfly's wings, the tiny, tiny eggs that insects lay – macro photography unfolds this lilliputian life and shows us the beauty in small things. Over the years, we have witnessed some wonderful macro captures through Hive uploads and on our social media. To celebrate this genre, we reached out to some of our contributors and asked them to share their favourite macro images along with tips to master this form of photography. Let's zoom in on what they have come up with.

Surya Narayanan

While dealing with animals in macro photography, be responsible; do not click too many shots with harsh flashes. Be patient and wait for the right moment to make your image.

Equipment: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon 100mm macro f/2.8L

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A species of shrub frogs, the Raorchestes ochlandrae or the Ochalandrae Reed Frog is endemic to the Western Ghats. They are mainly found in the Nilgiri mountains and the Anamalai Hills. They nest in the internodal regions of the Ochlandra bamboo stem, hence the name. (Wayanad, Kerala)
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A Malabar Vine Snake (Ahaetulla malabarica) is photographed feeding on another reptile, a Checkered Keelback (Fowlea piscator). Vine snakes are one of the most common snake species found in India. The rainforests of the Western Ghats are home to four distinct species of Green Vine Snakes that share morphological features but vary with respect to their geographical location. The Malabar Vine Snake is one among them and is endemic to the southern and central parts of Western Ghats. (Wayanad, Kerala)

Hayath Mohammed

“Macro photography has the innate ability to showcase details that the naked eye would have otherwise missed. It provides great insights into the tiny world of arthropods and flora. This can lead to interesting observations that unravel some stunning interwoven mysteries and result in spectacular images. However, utmost care must be taken to ensure that one follows ethical practices. Making images to showcase the beauty of the subject by harming it or its progeny is counterproductive!”

Equipment: Olympus OM-D E-M10 M2, 60mm macro lens,  Raynox DCR-250 

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Owlflies lay eggs on the stem of plants. The larvae stick to each other,  often hiding under debris or leaf litter. They use their large mandibles to capture insects that come in their proximity. The fast-flying adult owlflies are distinguished by their large eyes and their club-shaped antennae. They hunt and feed on other insects. (Bangalore, Karnataka)
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A Tortoise Shell beetle with damaged elytra. Also known as Green Tortoise beetles, the insects are characterised by their dome-shaped elytra or outer covering. The larvae of these beetles scratch the surface of the leaves leaving behind translucent patches. As they grow older, they also produce holes, eventually defoliating the plant. (Bangalore, Karnataka)

Pavan Tavrekere

“Pay attention to your subjects, no matter how common they are. You might encounter a new perspective or a new behaviour that you would have never observed before. It is better to spend some extra time on the field than repent later for missing out on moments that you could have photographed."

Equipment: Pentax KS-2, 50mm f/2.8 macro lens, two flashes, DIY diffuser

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The head of a Mantidfly resembles that of a praying mantis while the wings are transparent with delicate patterns. Their forelegs are adapted to capture their prey, and their yellow-brown banded body enables them to mimic certain species of wasps. (Bangalore, Karnataka)
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The colourful Clown Grasshopper belongs to the order Orthoptera, which also includes locusts and crickets. Colours are a big part of the grasshopper’s anti-predator adaptation. Some camouflage against their surroundings while others use bright colours to deter their predators. (Bangalore, Karnataka)

Subrata Das

“To manage depth of field in macro photography, it is important to set the camera on manual focus mode and stabilise it for better focus and sharp images. Spending some time on getting the settings right is crucial. Do not rush through the process." 

Equipment: Canon 1300D, Canon 55-250mm lens, Raynox DCR-250

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A Metallic Jumper spider is seen with its kill, an ant. Jumping Spiders belong to the Salticidae family, and there are about 5800 species described in this family. They are found in diverse habitats across the world, although they mainly prefer tropical regions. They can jump as high as 50 times their height. (Outskirts of Siliguri, West Bengal)
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A lone queen weaver ant. Weaver ants live in colonies that consist of one or more queen ants and several worker ants. Workers perform essential functions such as building nests, defence and foraging, while queen ants lay eggs, protect and feed the larvae till they develop into mature workers. Some female offsprings leave the colony to establish their own, while others continue as non-breeding females. (Outskirts of Siliguri, West Bengal)

Jithesh Pai M

“A macro photographer must be a naturalist first, and a photographer after. Once we know the habitat and understand the behaviour of the species, photography becomes very easy. Of course, this holds true for wildlife photography in general.”

Equipment: Canon 70D & 80D, Tamron 90mm macro lens, Yongnuo 560 IV Speedlite, DIY diffuser

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Net-casting spiders are also known as Ogre-faced spiders due to their enormous eyes. These nocturnal predators have acute vision and can detect small movements even in complete darkness. Their method of capturing prey is unique among all the spiders. The web they spin for this purpose is composed of highly stretchable sticky fibres. It is swept over an insect in a blindingly fast scooping motion of the front legs, followed by a venomous bite to immobilise the struggling prey. (Mangalore, Karnataka)
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Camel spiders are known by other names such as wind spiders, sun spiders or solifuges. Even though they are called sun spiders/camel spiders, these arachnids are not spiders but belong to a different order called Solifugae. They are most commonly seen in deserts and arid regions and are considered as endemic indicators of desert biomes. (Bangalore, Karnataka)

Shuvam Sadhukhan

“Light plays a key role in macro photography. If you land up using an external flash, then try to design the diffuser based on your needs. More important than the technique is your approach to the subjects. Always be kind to the insects and be patient with your photography.“

Equipment: Nikon D5300, 18-55mm lens reversed, external flash, DIY diffuser

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The image shows a Telamonia sp. which belongs to the jumping spider family with its kill – a Metallic Jumper spider. Look closely, and you will find that the Metallic Jumper spider is also holding its kill, a fly. Most species of the jumping spider family feed on insects, but as this image portrays, some spiders sometimes consume their own, while also hunting for other species. (Kolkata, West Bengal)
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Deer flies belong to the Tabanidae family and are considered as pests to cattle, horses and humans. They have sharp mouthparts which help them slice the skin of the host and feed on the blood that pools around the wound. (Kolkata, West Bengal)

Sandip Guha

“Irrespective of your subject, when it comes to macro photography, you will most likely need to incorporate some extra light. As you are using a wider aperture and an extended focal length, the usual ambient lighting will not be enough. Using a reflector or an external flash along with a diffuser will improve your photographs.”

Equipment: Canon 80D & 1200D, Tamron 90mm macro lens, Canon 55-250mm lens, Digitek Manual Speedlite flash, DIY diffuser

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Longhorn beetle is the collective term for about 25,000 species. They are found all over the world, mainly in tropical climates. Male beetles produce a specific scent or pheromones to attract females. (Outskirts of Siliguri, West Bengal)
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Matchstick Grasshoppers belong to the Eumastacidae family. As seen in the image, they have extremely thin legs that are positioned at 90 degrees to their body. There are several species in this family, of which many are wingless. (Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, West Bengal)

Ashok Kallagunta

“Although using a dedicated macro lens can make your work easier, macro photography does not demand that you always use expensive lenses. All you need is your basic camera with its kit lens and some additional equipment. Once you establish your process, macro photography becomes easy and very satisfying.”

Equipment: Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 100mm f/2.8L lens, Raynox DCR-250 filter, external flash

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Flower chafers are small, stocky beetles that come in shimmering bright colours. They are also known as flower beetles and are mostly found in tropical parts of the world. They feed on flowers, pollen, nectar and sometimes even fruits. Depending on the species, they are also known to harm the plants they visit. (Bangalore, Karnataka)
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Banana Skipper eggs, laid on a banana plant. These butterflies feed on banana plants in their larval stage and are brown in colour, with three yellow spots on their forewings. The caterpillars of Banana Skippers tear a portion of the leaf and curl it to hide inside and feed. When a plant is severely infested, large cigar-shaped rolls are seen hanging from the leaves. (Bangalore, Karnataka)

Girish Gowda

“As photographers, we must spend time observing the subject. This gives us the opportunity to understand the animal's behaviour, which will help us plan the next image better. Our goal should not be to take a picture in a hurry. “

Equipment: Nikon D5100 & D7000,  Tamron 90mm macro lens, Yongnuo YN-560 flash, DIY diffuser

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The Yellow Bush Frog, also known as the Blue-eyed Yellow Bush Frog is endemic to the Western Ghats of Karnataka, usually found in coffee plantations. The image focuses on the frog’s vocal sacs, as it calls out to attract potential mates. (Agumbe, Karnataka)
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Spider wasps are distributed throughout the world, and as the name suggests, they feed on spiders. The wasp paralyses its prey using its poisonous fangs, making the spider completely immobile. Some wasps are also known to kill the spider. Paralysed spiders serve as food for newborn wasps. (Agumbe, Karnataka)

Amith Kiran Menezes

“Use a smaller aperture to show the details of the subjects. For example, the bark mantis was photographed at f/16 and the lacewing larvae at f/22. Also, do not disturb the subjects, especially while they are eating or mating.”

Equipment: Canon 90D, Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, two flashes – Godox & Simpex, Raynox DCR-250, DIY diffuser

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A clutch of freshly hatched lacewing larvae. Green Lacewings are insects that belong to the Neuroptera family. There are about 2000 species in this group. They feed on insects and insect eggs, therefore act as natural pest control agents. Female lacewings deposit eggs close to a food source. As seen in the image, the eggs are attached to a thin stalk-like structure. This prevents cannibalism by sibling larvae. (Bangalore, Karnataka)
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As the name suggests, bark mantises camouflage well against barks and mainly live within tree branches. Not only do they use camouflage as a tactic to hide from predators, when needed, they also leap off the tree and fall to the forest floor to mimic a dead insect. This helps them to avoid being captured. (Bangalore, Karnataka)