Macro-photography and Its Importance to Biodiversity

Speaking of the Wild, one tends to overlook the insect-kind. Insects to most are creepy looking, but in reality, they are extremely photogenic and fascinating to look at. To the Bengalurean techie and macro-photographer, Hayath Mohammed, the world of arthropods has been very appealing and has reveled in being up-close and personal with them. In this interview with CSP, he speaks of his journey as a macro-photographer and the significance of the insect-world to biodiversity.

Can you speak about yourself and how your interest came about in photography?

I’m another IT coolie in the concrete jungle of Bangalore. However, growing up in Bangalore did provide access to some amazing locations and biodiversity. Most of my summer holidays would be spent outdoors. When I wasn’t busy playing with friends, I would spend time observing the fascinating phases of bugs and butterflies in the undergrowth around the empty sites of developing Bangalore.

Nature and its myriad wonders provided cannon fodder to the growing mind.  Photography was a mere extension of the curiosity towards the natural world. Social media and online fora such as India Nature Watch provided great platforms to share and learn. Ever since, I’ve enjoyed showcasing the hidden beauty of the Arthropod world as much as I enjoy observing it up-close.

Why macro photography and how long have you been into macro photography?

The art of macro photography brings details that are otherwise unseen by the naked eye, and with those details, a range of questions spring up in the mind that often lead to deep understanding of the natural world. This journey of viewing creatures up-close and in that amount of detail has helped gain a deeper understanding and shows how little we know or appreciate the amazing natural world

How would you want macro photography to be adopted in conservation? Can you throw light on insect conservation from a biodiversity perspective?

We often think of habitat or ecosystem as a large biosphere. However, looking at interactions and interdependencies at the micro level shows how these tiny worlds are the building blocks to the full habitat/ecosystem.

Given the insect world forms a significant biomass, one cannot begin to fathom how important these are in maintaining the fine balance. Wasps, spiders, predation, etc. ensure the survival strategies employed by insects do not result in invasions. Any imbalance can show up magnified several folds with real impact to the ecosystem and eventually humans.

Studying preferred/host plants, employing biocontrol in agriculture, etc. can go a long way in maintaining a healthy balance.

Among the million photos you have clicked, which one takes you back to that moment?

Several moments that have left me speechless, but watching Ammophila wasp paralyzing a moth caterpillar and preparing it to lay eggs in left me awestruck! The wasp made several attempts at digging the right sized hole in the ground to bury the paralyzed caterpillar, where it would become an unwilling host with the wasp larvae hatching inside and emerge eating their way out.

What advice would you give to those who have started out macro photography and their conservation journey?

I like to quote Myth busters – “The difference between fooling around and science is writing it down.” Observe and document – that way it doesn’t become a flash in the pan!

Understanding behaviour can result in consistent documenting of behaviour and resulting images that can showcase the beauty and intricacies.

Last but not the least – subject welfare is paramount. No amount of likes and shares are justifiable if the subject or progeny is put in harm’s way.

(photos courtesy Hayath Mohammed)


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