How the magic is done - "The Acrobate"

Perhaps we don't think of snails as the most acrobatic animals out there, but now it's time to revise that opinion. Thanks to Samuel Bastien's inspiring photo, we get to see what kind of acrobatic manouvers snails really are capable of. Today, Samuel will tell us the story behind the photo. To read more in depth tutorials, please see
1x Learning.


Pentax K-R, Tamron 90mm macro f/2.8, 1/320s, f/2.8, ISO500, hand-held


CONTEXT
Like most of my pictures, this one was taken in my own garden. I live in the south of France and since the beginning of spring until the end of autumn there are a lot of subjects to photograph. There are many mantis, empusa, ladybirds, dragonflies, butterflies, scorpions, ants, and snails. This image was taken under a large tree.

The snail was riding on a branch of wild vines. The day before it had rained and therefore snails were released. It’s the position of the snail that I found so interesting. It provided a kind of graphic to the scene. The working  distance was 1 meter. I decided to have a 2.8 aperture to isolate my subject because the environment was not favorable.

The snail was in the shadow under a tree, so I had to find the right combination of settings directly in the camera. I always work with the natural light white balance. I vary the contrast and saturation using the possibilities of the camera.

I always have a very clear idea of the image that I want to achieve. In this case the idea was to play with the shape of the snail and the curves of the branch. I tried to create a “funny“ picture with beautiful tones as well! When I showed this picture to my surroundings they immediately recognized my style. I love the macro addressed with simple things but the composition of the photo is of paramount importance.

POST PROCESSING
Unlike most photographers, I’m not fan of heavy post processing. I don’t have editing software like LightRoom or Photoshop! My “secret“ is to play with the settings.

I usually shoot my subjects with different settings, sometimes I take several hundred pictures for the same subject. For this one I decided to increase the ISO value to have sufficient exposure.



The second part of the processing is just playing with the little details like the shell of the snail. I took the

Gimp software here by using the selection tool for the shell to add more contrast to this area of the image.

The color was not altered afterwards but I had to add a bit of sharpness and finished the treatment with a

small smoothing operation.


HINTS
- In macro photography always consider it important to have as much knowledge as possible about the subject you want to photograph. Spend as much time as possible to walk through the desired terrain to discover the life in this little world.

- Learn to understand things by analyzing all the elements around, e.g. light, vegetation, colors.

- Leave nothing to chance.

BIOGRAPHY
Samuel Bastien is a 42 years old a business manager. He started with photography in June 2010. He is primarly a macro photographer, but also shoots landscape and portraits.

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