Passion about a topic, and some knowledge about the topic, can be part of the "soft skills" and can help one focus on a specialty, in the above cases, insect macrophotography.
But the cases that you quoted could just as easily be seen as "hard skills"? I don't get this artificial divide between "knowing your tools" and "having an interest in a topic that can somehow lead to great photographs". Both can be used for good or bad. Defining good and bad in photography is difficult.
People do whatever they want. If they find happiness in interpreting MTF-graphs, then great for them. Perhaps this helps them advance their images, or they end up inventing some new useful photography tool. History is full of "nerds" that went all in towards some goal and ended up producing great art, great science, or some other goal, possibly neglecting their family and friends in the process. A (probably larger) group of people spent their life and career pursuing some goal that did not (at least yet) matter much.