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Up close with nature photography

Up close with nature photography

Friday, February 19, 2016

My photography journey really developed after learning about macro photography, which is extreme close-up photography, producing photographs of small items larger than life size. I was doing local workshops and bought my first camera, the Nikon D300, from my mentor.



While I loved photographing the beach, the gardens and the rainforests I would get lost in rock pools and the petals looking for something we missed with the naked eye. I added the Sigma Macro 150mm lens to the kit.

I recall being at a workshop in The Red Centre, which was based out of Alice Springs, and we had pulled over to photograph a stunning landscape. 

My mentor had a little chuckle at me sitting on the ground trying to get a shot of a wildflower with my 20mm (no time to change lenses) while everyone else was concentrating on this enormous rock.

These extreme close-ups opened my eyes to another world – bugs & bees.

What is that?

I was very curious to learn what these critters I was photographing were. I HAD to know what to call them. I bought a few a books and more recently downloaded some applications for when I am travelling. 

You can find a full list at the end of the article, but my top 2 are The Michael Morcombe Guide to Birds and the Frogs Field Guide.

Before long I HAD to know if they were native. Naturally my research opened my eyes to our threatened species and I was hooked. Something had to be done.

Smooth Toadlet

The big move

I was spending a lot of money going on workshops and travelling to take photos. Solution – move. On my first trip to Dayboro I fell in love with a 5-acre property that sat on top of a hill overlooking the valley. It had everything. 

 Beautiful views, enough property to feel I can make a difference (albeit a small one) and peace and quiet. 

I remember on my first inspection the tenant living on the property tried to scare me off with photos of a 3 metre carpet python that frequently visited the deck. He was not expecting my absolute delight and level of excitement. 

He obviously didn’t want to leave this beautiful spot but his tactic backfired and I think that was the moment I knew I had to have this property. I bought it.

The next step - signing up to Land for Wildlife

I quickly arranged for an inspection by Land For Wildlife officers and was signed up on the ‘Working Towards’ program. I got lots of great advice. My main objective was revegetation for endangered species.

I have spent many hours (and dollars) at Kumbartcho and the Caboolture Region Environmental Education Centre (CREEC) and buried in books looking for plants to add to my paddocks. 

I love frogs and reptiles so have put in a number of frog ponds with some reptile friendly habitat close by.

The Land For Wildlife and Environmental Education Workshops that were being offered by council were amazing. 

The native bee workshop is my favourite but I think the composting and recycling workshops have added most value to my revegetation projects. 

Before these workshops I had been convinced I did not produce enough waste to sustain a worm farm. I now have several farms and macro photos of said worms :-)

Native Bee

What lives here?

Before moving to Dayboro I was lucky to be able to name a dozen bird species now I have more than that visit my property every day. Even better, I can recognise most by their call.

The Land For Wildlife officers have been great. Having little knowledge, I had imagined koalas on my property in no time. 

I soon learned that as there are no corridors to link to, planting trees for koalas wasn’t the best option.

My recollection of my first ‘big discovery’ was gardening with my mum and we found a weird looking slug with a pink triangle. 

 We got the cameras out. Rule number one – never garden without the camera nearby. I was quickly googling ‘slug with triangle’ and soon discovered The Red Triangle Slug, Australia’s largest native land slug. 

I had never seen one or even heard of them. How very cool.

Most discoveries are still exciting and identification attempts have been successful. 

Red triangle slug

When my book and google searches have come up empty on identifications I have a few websites to check with, otherwise the photos get sent to the Queensland Museum.

Identifying the species quickly is important so I can research their preferred habitat and ensure I incorporate their needs into the project. 

While I wasn’t removing any vegetation, neighbouring properties are much bigger and naturally their practices also affect surrounding species. 

After one clearing I no longer heard the Whipbirds so I considered what I could do on my patch to help.

Don't get too close

It is difficult to get close enough to some critters without disturbing them and that’s not an option. Respect and well being of wildlife comes first. With a view to capture more and keep a safe distance I added my next lens to the kit - the Sigma 150-500mm.

I have many small birds including lots of fairy wrens and finches so the ultra telephoto zoom lens has been great to get shots of these little visitors.

Fairy Wren

I followed a python for a few hours one day curious about what he gets up to. I feel much safer following a brown snake or red-bellied black with a 500mm lens on.


I am a volunteer with a number of not for profit organisations including our local Progress Association. They do a free community calendar each year and I have been able to share some of our beautiful critters and landscape shots through the calendar.

I am also volunteer rural firefighter and my love of wildlife is well known amongst my fellow brigade members. 

I have been alerted several times to the arrival of wildlife including reptiles during hazard reduction burns. I have been lucky enough to get some photos (when safe to do so) and more recently some video of a python making his way up a tree. Amazing creatures.

Some of my images of wildlife and environmental workshops are on the CREEC website but you can also check them out on my photography page (coming soon) or on Facebook

Be sure to check out the album called ‘Green spiders & stuff’. You’ll love it.


When out and about photographing our beautiful country and its critters remember to look up, down and behind you. You never know what you might discover.

Be good, be kind and be safe.

Resources that might be of interest