Taking great photos of insects may seem difficult, but it’s actually quite easy – once you know a few tips and tricks.
In this article, I share my top five insect photography tips, including:
- How to find bugs to shoot
- How to improve your insect compositions
- How to choose the perfect angle for great insect photos
When you’re done reading, you’ll be ready to go and capture your own stunning insect photos!
1. Patiently seek out the right topics
It may seem obvious…
…but if you want to take great photos of insects, you must first learn how to find insects. Our multi-legged counterparts are all around us, but they don’t usually announce their presence with a trumpet blast. You have to spend time looking!
So when you leave with your camera, don’t be frustrated if you don’t see any insects. Have fun looking for creatures in the grass, dirt, trees, etc. It may take a few minutes, but if you do a search, you will be find plenty of potential subjects.
In my experience, after a bit of subject research, you can find large insects on trees, shrubs, rocks, benches, buildings, and just about anywhere else. Don’t be afraid to search your own backyard either; as long as you have grass, trees or dirt, you are bound to find some good subjects.
Of course, be sure to wear casual clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty – bugs often live in the ground, after all! I sometimes crouch on the ground, straddle a fence, or perch on top of a ladder to get a better view of these little creatures. It’s hard and messy work, but it’s also a great way to get some mesmerizing photos.
2. Wait for the best shots
I would like to let you in on a little secret:
Insects are not so good at following instructions. Most bugs just go do not listen to perfectly reasonable requests like “Keep quiet!” or “Turn the other way!”
So what does this mean for you?
As an insect photographer, you must learn to be patient. Once you’ve found a subject (see previous tip), you can’t expect to get a great shot right away. Wait, watch and be ready – so that when a good opportunity presents itself, you nail the shot.
That might mean watching a cicada explore a shrub, keeping an eye out for a beetle as it stalks its way through your lawn, or waiting for dinner to fly through a spider’s web. It sounds boring, but if you open yourself up to the world of insects, you might find a lot of things that fascinate you.
Pro tip: The slightest noise can disturb our little friends, so be sure to move quietly. And don’t interfere with the activities of insects. If your camera has a long zoom lens, you can use it to get close-ups from a distance.
Another tip: if you want to photograph insects in action you will need to use a fast shutter speed, but in low light situations a fast shutter speed will often produce an image that is too dark. This is when you will want to increase your ISO; Sure, a high ISO can produce noise, but it’s better to capture a noisy image than a blurry one.
Sometimes you have to keep an eye on a critter for a long time, and even after several minutes of waiting, it can decide to run away or fly away. This is how insect photography is done! When you are about to take pictures of insects, nothing is guaranteed.
That said, if you manage to strike a balance between shooting and waiting, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
3. Capture the eyes, not just the insect
This trick may seem a little strange – and it’s not always easy to pull off – but if you can capture the the eyesyour photos will reach a whole new level.
As the saying goes, “The eyes are the window to the soul.” And that doesn’t just apply to humans; it also works for animals and even insects!
You see, when you take a picture of an insect’s eyes, it’s almost like the two of you share a moment. As if you and the insect were looking at each other and allowing each other to share the space for a few seconds.
I’m no entomologist, and I have no idea if insects think anything when I take their pictures. But seeing their eyes and faces lends significant depth to what would otherwise be just another photo of another bug. It takes time and patience, but if you can capture the eyes of your insect subjects, you can draw your viewers to your photos in new and compelling ways.
Note that if you want to capture bug eyes, you will need to be careful with your camera angle and your focus. Here, manual focus can be a great help, assuming your subject remains still; this way you can make sure the eyes stay sharp.
4. Shoot from bottom to top
This is a mistake beginner insect photographers make All the time:
Standing above the insect subject and pointing the camera down.
You can use this approach and you might get images of spiders, beetles, or giant ants, but they won’t. almost as interesting, compelling, or engaging as they would be if you tried a lower angle.
For example, you can try getting level with the insect, so that your camera appears to be peering directly into the insect’s small world. This will give you an intimate result, the one that serious insect photographers love.
You can even try to go below the insect and the shooting; this move will cause the insect to pop up above the viewer in a fun little inversion.
I followed this poplar borer for nearly half an hour as it climbed a pine tree, all because I wanted to take a photo from a less conventional angle:
Of course, I could have just taken a picture while she was on a branch or on the trunk of a tree, but I knew that shooting from a low angle would create a much more captivating image.
So don’t be afraid to go low. And experiment with interesting angles whenever you get the chance!
5. Invest in a macro lens
As you’re no doubt aware, insects tend to be quite small – and unfortunately most lenses aren’t designed to focus on tiny subjects.
But macro The lenses are specially designed to capture beautiful images of insects, flowers and other small objects. They will get you sharp images and presenting tons stunning detail, which is why I recommend investing in a dedicated macro lens as soon as possible.
Now it’s true:
Macro lenses can be quite expensive. But the results they produce are amazing, so if you’re serious about insect macro photography, a macro lens is usually worth the cost.
If you’d rather wait on a macro lens, or aren’t sure you’re ready to dive into insect photography, you have other options. You can buy close-up filters, which will help enlarge your subject, or you can use extension tubes, which are another great way to get clean close-ups (and they won’t break the bank either). ).
Of course, not all insect photography needs to be done at high magnifications, so before spending money on lenses or accessories, test out the equipment you already own. See if it can’t give you the results you’re looking for! You’d be surprised what standard lenses, such as 50mm lenses, are capable of.
Insect Photography Tips: Final Words
Now that you’ve finished this article, you know how to take great insect photos!
So get out there with your camera (and if you can, grab a macro lens!). Practice finding bugs. Practice photographing insects. And remember: Be patient!
Now your turn :
What kind of insects do you plan to photograph? What equipment will you be using? Share your opinion in the comments below!