In his eye-popping new book "Hyper Nature," photographer and ecologist Philippe Martin uses a painstaking post-processing technique to capture the almost unreal beauty of chameleons, crickets, beetles, lizards, frogs and other tiny critters.
The technique that he uses — "hyper focus" — is a departure from the vast majority of macro nature photography you've seen before.
While harnessing the depth of field is an intentional aesthetic choice for many macro photographers, it presents certain challenges if you're trying to get an entire small subject in focus. For example, if you want to get an animal's eyes in focus, you have to sacrifice the focal clarity of other parts of its body.
To achieve his surreal "hyper focus" aesthetic, Martin fused multiple images of a single subject by piecing them together in focus stacking software. Each of the stacked images are focused on a different part of the subject, so after they are combined, what's left is one image that is focused uniformly throughout.
"The composite images in this book are the result of five years of original imaging experiments in close-up nature photography," Martin writes in the book's foreward. "All were taken in natural, even very low, light, without the optical distortion that would result from the use of wide-angle lenses."
Of course, "Hyper Nature" is more than an impressive photographic feat — it's also a fascinating study of some of our planet's smallest yet intriguing life forms. Nearly all of the creatures featured in the book could probably fit in the palm of your hand, which is why it's so eye-opening to see them presented in such resounding clarity.
Images used with permission from "Hyper Nature" by Philippe Martin, Firefly Books, September 2015, $39.95