Natural Beauty

Get close enough to nature, and new experiences open up for you. A meadow or shrub near your home that you never really noticed in the past can suddenly become the gateway to another world, offering up spectacular motifs. Stefano Zatti uses his ZEISS lenses to capture the beauty in such hidden treasures.

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/5.6, 1/250 sec, ISO 400
Butterfly in the morning sun
Full resolution on Flickr

At first glance, an indigenous butterfly may not seem like anything special — not the kind of exotic motif worthy of a safari. However, stand there long enough and take the time to view it closely and you will literally see things differently. The play of the butterfly’s delicate wings in the sun’s light, framed by the rich green of the surrounding meadow, which Stefano Zatti turns into a blurry bokeh, demonstrates perfectly the allure of this intense macro photography. “I like this picture a lot. When insects awaken, they always first stretch their wings out in the sun to dry. They don’t move until that’s done. It’s precisely that moment that I was able to capture, and the butterfly remained very still.”

For as long as he can remember, Zatti has been interested in nature and the small details to be found in nature where, in his opinion, a unique beauty is revealed. When he discovered his talent for photography, it was only logical that macro photography would become his preferred discipline.

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/3.5, 1/320 sec, ISO 200
Leaf and dew in the morning sun
Full resolution on Flickr

Two years ago, Zatti took his photographic ambitions to the next level with the purchase of a full-format single lens reflex camera together with the Makro-Planar T* 2/100. “With this lens I have found more than just a tool that lets me pursue my hobby; it is my ally. Normally in macro photography, you increase the depth of field by stopping down, but I typically work more with wide aperture settings. I still remember how surprised I was with the first shots I took with the Makro-Planar T* 2/100: incredible sharpness at f/2.8 and only one monopod for stabilization. And look at this bokeh and these colors: they give this picture of a leaf moist with dew an aura of exactly that peaceful morning freshness that I love so much.”

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/3.5, 1/200 sec, ISO 200
Moss at the foot of a large tree
Full resolution on Flickr

Zatti wants to capture moods and make the viewer feel as if he were standing in nature himself, looking at this or that small detail together with the photographer. Or to adapt a quote from Beethoven: “It’s more about the expression of feelings than about photography itself”. What does the observer feel when he looks at the minimalist image of the moss immersed in the color green? Perhaps the person looking at the image can even appreciate the effort that went into this shot on Zatti’s part, which was taken lying on the ground in a particularly uncomfortable position. Zatti wanted to capture the color gradient in the background as softly and clean as possible. The smooth focus operation of the Makro-Planar T* 2/100, with its large angle of rotation, helped ensure the focal plane lay exactly on the moss in the foreground.

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/11, 1/100 sec, ISO 320
Bee in morning light
Full resolution on Flickr

“When I look at the pictures of other macro photographers, I often see images that are of a high technical standard. They are almost perfect pictures of butterflies, bees or similar insects. But the images have a sterile effect on me — completely sharp from top to bottom, with the motif in the optimal position. Pictures you could include in an entomological reference book without any problem. But that’s exactly what I don’t want. My pictures should have atmosphere. When I look at the bee’s head rising toward the sun exactly at the moment I took the picture, I think to myself: she is greeting the new day.”

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/4, 1/125sec, ISO 200
Scorpion fly in morning light
Full resolution in Flickr

Stefano Zatti is not afraid of committing small technical imperfections in order to stage his motifs. He likes to take advantage of the possibilities of manual focusing with the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 in order to compose the focal plane. For example, the picture of the scorpion fly drying her wings is not completely in focus. “I decided intentionally for this setting in order to capture what I think is a really nice bokeh. This picture is also another example of the special light and color rendering of the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 which I like so much.”

D700, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, f/5.6, 1/160 sec, ISO 200
Broken branch with spiders’ webs in November
Full resolution on Flickr


It is the beauty of nature’s simplicity that fascinates Zatti and inspires him again and again as a photographer. A morning in November, fog, a broken branch. Dew is collecting at a spider’s nest. The motif is almost minimalistic, and yet it communicates a very special mood that fits the melancholic feeling at that time of year. “Clear forms and lines, hardly any colors. A geometric, very simple motif. Almost too simple. But I am convinced: it is in the simplicity and purity of forms that you find true elegance.”


About Stefano Zatti

Stefano Zatti lives in a small town in northwestern Italy near Turin and works in the automobile industry. In his free time, he likes to go on long walks in the area to indulge his passion for photography and concentrate for a few hours on nothing else but the beauty and detail to be found in nature.


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