SWITCH's Antonia Lutz and Frank Zehnder are keen macro photographers in their spare time. A talk about their passion.
Antonia: About three years ago, I realised that my compact camera's battery wasn't working properly any more. It was time to get a new one. I bought a digital single-lens reflex camera from Canon, but I wasn't sure what lens to get. A colleague lent me his 100 mm macro lens. After using it to take a few photos of flowers, I knew I wanted one. It was love at first click. Frank: It was similar for me, although I got into macro photography seven years ago after years of taking photos. I had a Canon set-up, but I rented a Nikon D3 with a wide-angle lens for my holiday in Tuscany because I wanted to try to my hand with full-format pictures. My girlfriend's uncle lent me his macro lens. I started out photographing lizards, flowers and rock formations. Nikon brought out an affordable full-format SLR the year after that, and I snapped one up. Antonia: Why did you get your macro set-up? Frank: It was purely out of curiosity as to what was possible with it. What about you?
Antonia: What fascinates me is that you can make out things on the photo that you can't see with the naked eye. I always had a tendency to get close up to my subjects. Do you have a favourite subject? Frank: No. It depends on the situation. That said, I do like taking pictures in the Papiliorama butterfly house in Kerzers and the Masoala biodome at Zurich Zoo. It's amazing! I aim to show what the eye doesn't see. Antonia: I surprise myself sometimes, especially with plants. Frank: Yes, I'm the same. We were on a cruise around Spitzbergen once and went ashore. I only had my macro lens with me, so I took photos of plants. It was only when I looked at them back at home that I noticed a fly I'd never seen before on one of them. Generally speaking, I also like the structures you see in rock formations. When I show pictures like that to my friends and family, they often have no idea what they're looking at. Do you have any favourite subjects? Antonia: Yes, I specialise in butterflies. That wasn't always the case. Back when I started, I just went out and looked around to see what I could find. I'm a fan of butterflies, so I started to focus on them after about a year. Have you taken any photography courses?
Frank: I did a course in sports photography when I was about 20. Apart from that, I'm self-taught. That means I started taking an interest in photography in the analogue age. I shot thousands of photos and at least 2,500 colour slides with my analogue kit. I kept 36-line sheets of notepaper close at hand to write down all my settings. When I got a digital camera, I practically had to relearn how to take photos. How do you hone your photography skills? Antonia: I mainly use the Internet. I watch tutorial videos on YouTube and Lynda, and I've bought some e-books on the topic. Last year, I took a two-day course in the art of photographing butterflies. What does macro photography mean to you? Frank: It's part of my life. When I was at school, my dad let me borrow his camera. I wanted my own as a confirmation present, and I got one from my godfather. What about you? Antonia: Photography gets me into great outdoors, close to nature. I'm a very visual person. I often look at photos just for the fun of it, but sometimes I can learn from them as well. I apply high standards when it comes to my own pictures. You can always do better. I do switch hobbies a lot, though. We'll have to see how long I stick with macro photography.