These Photos of Squirrels Playing Will Totally Make Your Day
Vadim Trunov is a talented nature and macro photographer well-known for his amazing animal photos. Trunov’s macro photos of snails, ants and other small insects, bring to life a world that we often overlook.
His photos of fungi and other plant life are also remarkable to see for their clarity, sharpness and beauty. In another fun series, Trunov captures the playful spirit of squirrels playing with each other.
We caught up with the photographer to ask him about his photography, how he captured the squirrels and what he loves about nature and macro photography. Please note the responses were translated from Russian and slightly modified for grammar :)
To see more and purchase prints, be sure to check out Vadim’s work at the links below.
What was your inspiration for creating the “squirrel series”?
The creation of this photo series was inspired by funny pictures of squirrels from different authors. On the Internet I’ve seen lots of interesting and funny photos of squirrels. I myself decided to make a story with squirrels. A month later, I started taking interesting pictures, but watching the squirrels, I noticed that they were very funny and curious animals. In the autumn-winter forage, little squirrels in the woods are ready to do anything to get nuts. I took advantage of this to make interesting stories of squirrels.
Did you create the scenes and just hope the squirrels would interact with it?
In the forest, where squirrels often run, I put to earth food (nuts). Squirrels often returned to this place in order to get more nuts. Then on the same place I put the thing (camera). Squirrels examined and sniffed these foreign objects, hoping to find nuts. Using this method, I was able to take pictures of interesting stories.
What draws you to nature photography and specifically, macro nature photography?
I became interested in macro nature photography five years ago. Perhaps because in my childhood I liked to watch the insects and enjoy the beauty of the macro world. But now I can show all of this with a digital camera. I love macro photography because good pictures can be taken right next to my house, and going far is not necessary. It is sufficient enough to go to the garden, the forest, in the field, and I can capture some very interesting stories.
Do you have a favorite animal to photograph?
In the macro world, I have my favorite characters that are most interesting to me. One of them is the snail. Having extended her neck out of her shell, she is very impressive and interesting to look at in pictures. I capture a lot of stories with snails. The most interesting story I captured—a snail, and a drop of water. Ants: I think they are also very interesting to be looked at in pictures. They are small, fast and shooting them is not easy. I managed to shoot a story where an ant is floating on the surface of water. Mantises, grasshoppers, ladybugs, wasps, and dragonflies are also interesting subjects to shoot; as well as very beautiful butterflies. I like to also take pictures of mushrooms. They look mysterious and enigmatic. Snail and mushroom stories are one of my favorite subjects.
When is the best time for this type of photography?
The best time for photography is in the early morning (an hour or two hours after the sun rises). The morning fog makes the sunlight softer and beautiful. The light from the rising sun gives photos yellow and pink hues. It is easier to photograph insects early in the morning since they are still asleep. The low temperature at this time further reduces the activity of insects. Morning dew covered grass and small droplets of water and the insects create more beautiful photography. Pictures of butterflies and damselflies that restlessly fly during the day can easily be taken in the morning, as they are sleeping in the grass. Covered with dew they are very beautiful and look unusual.
Can you describe a typical day of shooting?
If I had planned to shoot in the morning, then I start early in the morning, when it is still dark. The place for shooting, too, needs to be settled before sunrise. I need time to search for insects or it may be too late and I miss out on the light. With a tripod, I pack a backpack containing the equipment needed for photography (camera, lens, flash, etc.). I come to a place where I will take pictures (a forest glade or a meadow near the river). I find the object (this may be an insect, plant, or forest mushrooms). Next, I need compositional lighting solutions, that is, you need to catch the light and choose it at an interesting angle. I prefer the back-light from the rising sun and a front light from the flash. It is desirable to capture
some kind of story in the photos which shows the behaviour of the insect. I do a few dozen shots. Among them several are good. A typical shoot of mine ranges from an hour to two hours. Then I come home, review the pictures and choose a great shot. If needed, I do digital photo processing.
What equipment do you use?
For macro photography the equipment I use is: a full frame SLR camera and 100mm macro lens. Also, I use one or two external flashes. A tripod is not always used, and the remote control. Sometimes for light I use a flashlight.
What are some challenges you face?
In my opinion the most difficult thing in macro shooting is photographing small insects in motion. This requires heightened concentration, attention and reaction. My shooting is done without a tripod. The movement precisely helps take off pulsed light and shorter shutter speed (1/500 sec since and shorter). For example, in photographing ants. But the main thing is always the idea, and its light and composition solution.
Any advice for aspiring photographers?
My advice is achieving the correct choice of equipment. Especially the lens selection. It is advisable to use a lens with a fixed focal length. For macro shooting: macro lens with a magnification of 1:1 or higher. For animals: a lens with a focal length of 200mm or more. One should also be skilled to work with light. It is best to take pictures in the morning and evening. In photos there should be a story. Before photographing, examine the insect or animal which you are going to take pictures of. This will help you create a more interesting shot.