Q: Tell us a little bit about your background!
I was born and raised in Madrid, Spain. I took up photography in my early 20s, seeking an artistic outlet that required both precision and an “artist’s eye” for the best shot. That said, most of my friends would say that I am “OCD” and they’re probably not far from the truth 😊.
In addition to my 35 years of experience in photography, just over ten years ago I became interested in “small world” photomicrography, [or extreme macro as we know it colloquially]. During the infancy of the discipline, we did not have simple access to the tools of the trade, so, out of necessity, I constructed my own equipment and developed my own techniques to achieve the photographic results I desired.
As a result of my experience and technique, I am now considered a subject matter expert in “extreme macro” globally. In conjunction with competitions, I routinely host exhibitions and talks on the topic for photographers associations and universities. I also curate and moderate some of the largest groups on social media and internet forums.
Q: How did you realize that you enjoy photography and capturing pictures?
Unlike most hobbies, photography provided me with an artistic outlet that was limited only by my imagination. Naturally, this morphed to an extreme macro which has been occupying all of my free time for many years now. It is my passion and vocation.
Q: Do you ever have trouble getting inspired? What do you do when moments like this arise?
I seldom lack inspiration, but in the rare moments that I do, the work of other photographers is always an important source of inspiration. I also dedicate time to improving my technique and my own artistic style. This always gets my creative juices flowing.
Q: Which aspect of photography would you say was the hardest thing that you had to learn or get used to?
In extreme macro, the most difficult thing is to precisely control the technique. We use many adapted items, such as bellows, microscope lenses, tube lenses, micrometer displacement systems, electronic controllers, lighting systems, etc. Using all of these tools in a harmonious and precise way is extremely difficult to master. It takes years to become proficient.
Q: You have been chosen Non-Professional Nature Photographer of the Year for your work “Jumping spider eyes viewed at 20x,” an image that opens up new universes (tiny ones) for us, bringing us closer to these creatures. How did you first get interested in this type of macro photography?
As I often say, in nature, there are creatures that, when seen very closely, seem to be from another planet. My photographs reveal a world that our eyes are unable to appreciate: insects seen relative to our size. It is a twist on conventional macro photography with a result that profoundly impacts the viewer.
My interest in extreme macro was born a little more than 10 years ago when there were very few photographers who dedicated themselves to this specialty. When I saw the work of another photographer, that day I decided that I would dedicate all my efforts to mastering this technique. This is my special world and sanctuary.
There is a phrase that I especially like, “There are other worlds, but they are in this one”.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about the technical background of this picture?
This image was taken with a Canon EOS 6D SLR camera, mounted on a Canon bellows from the analog era. I used an Olympus LMPlanFl 20X 0.40 BD microscope lens plus a Raynox 150 lens with infinity correction at an exposure time of 2″. In order to manage the movements, I used a micrometric rail model, the MJKZZ Xtreme Pro, which allowed me to transition the whole set in steps of 3.98 microns to create a series with a total of 140 photographs. Finally, I used system stacking to get a fully focused close-up of this arachnid at 20:1 (20x) magnification.
Q: Why did you decide on entering this particular photo into the IPA?
I love that my work is published in print media or in internet publications because I think that this photographic discipline is still quite nascent. My goal is to make this medium visible. This competition is important worldwide and it was a good opportunity to publicize my work. I find this particular “subject” very compelling and interesting.
Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?
It is very satisfying to know that my work will be appreciated by many people around the world. I am not seeking personal recognition but for the effect that it has on the viewer. That I managed to be amongst the winners, I thank the jury for their decision.
My photographic world is limited to illustrating the beauty of the insects and arachnids that populate our planet. The goal is to promote the preservation, particularly of beetles and butterflies which are vital to the planet and are quickly becoming endangered.
Taking into account that insects comprise the most diverse group of animals that populate the face of the Earth, with 1 million known species, and up to 30 million unidentified species, you can imagine that it is an almost infinite universe that remains to be explored.
Q: If you could do anything or go anywhere, what would your dream photography project be?
I would love to be able to travel to countries that are far away from mine where exist the most beautiful insects in nature. Countries like Costa Rica, Brazil, Madagascar, Malaysia or Indonesia. It is my dream to be a member of photographic projects in these countries.
Q: What good advice would you give to a photographer who is just starting to experiment with photography?
When it comes to general photography, the main advice I give is to forget about your equipment. There is a lot of obsession with having the latest camera model, but that will not make you a better photographer. You have to practice a lot – every day. The eye will gradually educate itself in the art of photography.
When considering extreme macro, what I advise is to try cheap equipment to see if it is the type of photography that you like to pursue. You must have the necessary patience and perseverance. There are many who leave it behind, but if you can get past those first moments of doubt, you could make great strides as a photomicrographer.
Q: What is next for you, are you working on anything right now?
I am happy to participate in an extremely interesting project for the Invertebrate Pavilion of the Barcelona Zoo in Spain. This will take place shortly and my photographs are a small part of this very exciting project.
For more information reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.