Hello! My name is Mikhail Omelko, I am the developer and author of this site. I have been doing wildlife photography, mainly macro photography, for over 20 years. My first cameras were Russian Zenit film ones. There were no true macro lenses for these cameras and I used the Helios-44 lens with extension tubes. This is a fairly primitive set of equipment by today’s standards, but nevertheless it was enough to master the basics of wildlife photography. At that time (the second half of the 90s) macro photography was a much more difficult process than it is now: my lens did not have autofocus, and manual focusing was hard because when the extension rings were attached, the image in the viewfinder became very dark. Nevertheless, that period was useful for me as a photographer. When your camera can take only 36 shots and there is no spare film (because you don’t have money to buy it), this forces you to treat each shot responsibly.
At the beginning of the 21st century, a revolutionary change from film cameras to digital ones began. Soon I got an opportunity to shoot with a very good Nikon Coolpix 5700 camera which had a built-in zoom lens. From that moment on, I was no longer limited by the need to buy expensive photographic films and involve other people in the process of obtaining photographs, who would develop my films and print the photos themselves. Of course, using the digital camera was a huge boost for me as a photographer. And after a while I managed to get my hands on my first DSLR camera (Nikon D70) with a true macro lens (AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f / 2.8D). From then until now, I have been a Nikon camera user.
For the first years of my fascination with macro photography, I was taking pictures exclusively with natural light. However, over time, I realized that natural light does not always fit for my purposes. In some situations, its amount may not be enough, and sometimes on the contrary, sunlight might be too strong creating excessively contrasting lighting. After becoming aware of these limitations of natural light, I started using flashes. At first it was a regular on-camera flash (Nikon SB-600), later I purchased Nikon R1C1 kit, designed specially for macro photography and consisting of two wireless remote speedlights and a speedlight commander module. At that time, I still did not know that the most important thing in using artificial light is a proper diffuser. However, I soon came across photos made by well-known macro photographer Nicky Bay (Singapore). Looking at his photographs, I was amazed at how soft yet strong lighting he was able to achieve using his DIY light diffusers. Inspired by Nicky Bay’s work, I started using various DIY diffusers and since then I have been using artificial light in most of my macro photos.
Macro is a rather diverse style of photography, and the same species of an arthropod or plant can be photographed in completely different ways. Personally, I do not like too “artistic” images when the photographer is trying to completely design the photo. For example, when he places a colorful butterfly on a large bright flower in an attempt to create the most attractive image for viewers. In my opinion, a good photo is a compromise between “beauty” and “naturalness”. I believe that a good photo should show beautifully how the subject actually looks or might look in natural conditions.
An important thing for me as a photographer was the launch of the Laowa 15mm f / 4 Wide Angle Macro lens on the market, which I began to use for my wide-angle macro. To this day, it remains the only wide-angle lens capable of shooting up to 1:1 magnification. This lens allows not only to capture an arthropod, mushroom or flower, but also to show it in its natural habitat. In addition to the already mentioned Nicky Bay, I consider such photographers as Chien Lee (Malaysia) and Emanuele Biggi (Italy) to be real masters in the wide-angle macro photography.
I live and photograph in Primorsky Krai, a region located in southeastern Russia and bordering China and North Korea. In addition, I really love tropical nature and have traveled to Sri Lanka, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Panama