Sit down, you're rocking the focus

Just starting to dip my toes into the world of macro/super-macro and I’m starting to wonder if there isn’t a special hospital somewhere out there specifically for macro-maniacs in relation to joint pain.

Even with a tripod, I spend a good deal of my time trying to jockey things into some kind of shot-worthy setup, especially when the little wonders seem to avoid perching on anything higher than knee level.

Any tricks to avoiding the ruin of my interpretive jazz dance career* while pursuing ‘lower’ lifeforms?

One-legged chair? Kneepads? Other?

It can get very complicated, very quickly. Especially if you are also trying to minimize your ecological footprint.

How do YOU make shooting easier on your bones? Would love to hear some practical solutions. Thanks.

*That’s a bit of an optimistic interpretation. Especially when you consider that my principal stretching exercise now is reaching for a cold one at the back of the fridge.


Photographers Yoga!
I use an iPhone with clip on lenses. Basically all hand held.
I practice squatting and standing up. I allow myself a two finger push off my boot toe.
I sit when I can. I do carry a knee pad on my belt, but really, I either forget I have it, or don’t have time to fiddle with it.
. Aging bones and a lack of physical Grace are difficult to combat. I do try to keep stretching exercises a routine. Winter is my downfall,and the favorite cold ones are kept in the front row of the fridge.


I personally like uploading clusters of uploads. Every time I bend over I try to get photos of 3-4 of the plants in that spot, and maybe a fungal pathogen, arthropod, leaf mine, and a plant gall at the same time. That way I still get a variety of life observed, but only bend over 1/5th as often as would be necessary if I was ready to pull the trigger for each and every life form I saw.
That said, I’m one of the younger uploaders. Probably not necessary for me to worry about my knees just yet, but good to think about anyway. Mostly conserve bending over to keep me outside with energy longer for that day, less so to keep my knees intact longer in general. I’m sure that will change in 10 years


I also use an iPhone with a good clip-on lens.

I know you may have been joking, but in relation to knee pads, I use them a lot because I often crawl about on beaches for hours on my knees and elbows, looking for micromollusks and their slightly larger relatives. I use both knee pads and elbow pads.

So in case this is helpful for anyone reading this to know, the best kind of knee pads are made for wrestling. They are a neoprene sleeve with a gel insert. I use the Asics brand.


This made me laugh :joy:
I feel your pain, my friend


I never joke (too much) about knee pain. It’s what almost killed my college career, and it haunts my wife daily (her family crest is kneepad shaped).

Thanks for those recommendations. I shall investigate and maybe invest.

Oh, and @thomazcallado, welcome to the discussion playground!


Yeah, I have to get back into my yoga routine. (Ever notice that the older you get, the higher the maintenance costs?)

I have a couple of friends who are yoga instructors. I keep telling them I need some kind of invertebrate lineup in my routine. Dogs, cats, pigeons, frogs, camels. Where are the invertebrates? ‘Butterfly’ is all they could come up with?


If I think I might be going to be doing some kneeling or crawling, I put the knee pads on when I get dressed in the morning, before I go out. I find them comfortable enough to wear all day.


Find some appropriate exercises and stretches from physio or yoga.
I borrowed the one they taught my husband after his knee op. Now I can get UP again after getting down to that flower, lichen, bug …


Knee problems run also in my family and I had some issues as well already and will probably get some more at some point. So I am usually also not kneeling anymore. I still photograph a lot deep in the meadows and bushes. I usually squat for quick shots and use the Cross-legged seat or just flat out lie down on my belly and ignore the funny looks of passer by when I want some nicer shots or observe a while.
I anyways always enjoyed this kind of photography a lot where you just sit down at a nice spot and let the creepy crawlies come to you. This can be well done without demanding too much from your knees.


any recommendations on a clip on macro for an iPhone SE ?

I do some basic mobility work after I do my weights; it helps a lot with contorting into weird positions. Although I’m currently nursing some sort of ouch in my right knee after it went out of then back into place. Figure four stretches, sitting down and touching the opposite foot (left hand to right foot, etc). Basic cat back and downward dog. They help with generic tightness and back pain and soreness and I’ve found it easier to get into strange positions that way. There’s still some stuff I just can’t do; anything that has my head down below my waist gets me dizzy in short order.

1 Like

Not sure which kind of camera you’re using, but I recommend using one with a flip out screen. That’s saved me a lot of kneeling and lying. I don’t use tripods, FWIW.


Or we could learn to emulate your unique technique that’s demonstrated in your profile pic! :wink:

‘Funny looks of passerby’ would make a good title for a diehard naturalist biography.

On my most commonly walked trail there’s a section of steps up a short cliff. I have been caught a few times now wagging-in for a macro shot on a stone or tree trunk by the trail side, and in doing so, blocking the path. Oops. Pardon me, sorry, etc.

Funny looks indeed.


I take anti motion sickness pills to keep that dizziness away. It helps.

Do you even lift bro? Gym time!!

I jest, but yes, exercise, especially weights, is actually so good and effective for maintaining your joints and flexibility.


Use one of these under your knee.


Skip the tripod if you are going after insects. Most of the time they’ll be gone by the time you adjust the tripod and bend down to get the shot. I’ve also learned to ignore most of the insects that would require lying down to get a shot. The only exception is when I know there will be lots of things to photograph while I’m down there. I find hedgerows and tall shrubs/short trees to be my friends. I can observe and photograph insects without having to drop to the ground.


I squat quickly with my camera on manual focus and continuous shooting then rock back and forth on my heels. A couple of them will come out with nice focus and you don’t have to squat too long if the wind is ok. I never kneel if I can possibly avoid it. Getting bugs with a tripod sounds tricky!


A longer lens makes a big difference. With a 100mm macro you can be further from the subject than you can be with a 50mm macro. Even a small amount of distance or change in posture can make a big difference in comfort level.

If you’re spending a lot of time at a single location, stick a piece of cut down foam exercise mat in your bag. You can use this as a knee pad or a seat. It has the added advantage of being extra protection for things in your bag (I have one cut to fit the bottom of my backpack for extra protection to my camera gear, and another one in my side bag that adds a bit of side-wall rigidity so it doesn’t bulge out sideways when I have things in it).

Good lighting. Macro work requires much brighter light than regular photography. Using a ring flash (or light) speeds up the image acquisition time enormously, and you can shoot at a higher f-stop, so you have a greater depth of field. Both of these mean that you spend less time hunched over your subject.

If you’re keen on using a tripod, then get a focusing rail. If your screen is adjustable, then you can angle it up and do your final focus using the rail rather than the lens. It’s a slower setup, but not all that much slower than using a tripod in the first place. I have my focusing rail set up on an arca-swiss mount so it is fast to take on or off the tripod head.


I carry a bright LED headlamp always, and use it to get a fast shutter if something’s in a dark corner (worn on my head, lined up with the camera). It’s bright enough to get crisp shots of a hummingbird moth at dusk.
Also I follow the axiom that if my knee can go there, my foot probably can instead, more steadily and safely. I will lie down but not kneel to get a shot.

1 Like