Photographing insects for striking macros
The sunny days are here, so it’s time to get out of the house to photograph insects and take striking macro shots, but how do you go about it?
How to photograph insects?
Today we are going to deepen this technique so that you can achieve the macrophotography you have always dreamed of. Before fully immersing yourself in this type of macro photography, you must obtain specific equipment for this discipline. The ideal would be to photograph insects using a reflex or mirrorless camera on which you can install a macro lens.
1. Work with a macro lens
Although there are other accessories for successful insect macro photography, macro lenses are the only option for photographing insects and producing results worthy of a professional.
The DZOFilm cine zoom lens has supposed a real revolution in the sector, not only for the quality of its lens, exceptional as always with the brand’s products, but also for being the lens with the best value for money of the market.
It has premium features worthy of more expensive lenses in the industry, but for a price that is much more affordable.
Macro lenses usually have a long focal length and they are all the more useful if you want to photograph insects.
You will need to get much closer to the insect with your aim to produce good works, but still at a reasonable distance so as not to scare off the insect in question if you disturb it.
This is the reason why we advise you to work with lenses of 100-200 mm focal length, to obtain the first shots of the insect, while remaining quite far away.
Another advantage of staying away from the insect, besides not interrupting its routine or course, is that you won’t cast shadows on it.
The construction of the lens is very important, in the choice of a lens to photograph insects, because it is according to this one that you will obtain more or less sharpness on your shots.
Among these elements, it is necessary to point out the three elements with ultra low dispersion and the four elements with high refractive index which will make it possible to avoid the chromatic aberrations which can form with the image. You won’t have any reflections or shine either, since this lens benefits from incomparable sharpness, as we have said.
Another aspect to consider before buying a lens for photographing insects is the number of diaphragm blades it has. The more there are, the more possibilities you will have to produce spectacular blurred backgrounds and even to create the bokeh effect easily.
It must be said that the background is one of the most important elements in insect photography , not only because they contextualize the environment but also because they allow you to give all the importance that the object deserves. insect in question.
2. Give your holds stability
To photograph insects and enjoy good quality results, you will need to work with the greatest possible precision and stability. It is true that the slightest vibration caused on the equipment can be reflected in the image.
Photographing insects is not easy, especially because they keep moving, so arm yourself with patience but also with a good tripod that brings you a little closer to the desired result.
You should also know that there are specific heads and supports for macro photography, which offer unparalleled precision, especially useful in insect photography.
Another accessory that will help you avoid any vibration that may appear in your photos is the remote shutter. So you won’t cause vibrations when you press the shutter button.
3. Take care of the light in your photos
As you probably know, controlling the light in photos will be the key to success. The use of a bright lens becomes essential in this discipline and if this is not the case, you will have to help yourself with flashes and additional lamps.
The accessory most often used to photograph insects is the ring flash. A circular shaped flash that provides continuous illumination and allows the insect to be edited in great detail, ultimately giving more freedom to use higher shutter speeds.
Another option is LED torches. And for the same reason: since they also provide continuous lighting, there will be more freedom in configuring the camera settings.
And if you work outdoors, using a small reflector can be a great alternative. You will indeed be able to modify and control the direction and intensity of the light in a few seconds.
4. Make creative compositions
In macro photography, the closer you get, the better the results will be. We can thus easily appreciate details that would pass unnoticed at a glance.
We advise you to work at ground level. Stand at the same height as the insects and get your target as close as possible. If you use a telephoto lens, take advantage of this advantage.
But don’t stop there: it is also important to play on the perspectives, to use shots from above and below. Get as creative as you can, ultimately, for compositions that stand out from other insect photos.
You can take inspiration from other people’s photos to photograph insects but without copying their results. You must give your personal touch to each photo, which will make it unique.
5. Do some research
To get great pictures of insects, it is essential to conduct research. The first thing to know are the types of insects that exist in your work area.
The time of year will be just as decisive. Of course, when the good weather approaches, the insects will not yet be very active, so it will be the perfect time to immortalize them because they will be more docile.
Once you have identified the types of insects in your work area, find other information about them, about their habits and their physical characteristics to give them more or less importance in your shots.
In fact, you won’t need to find unusual insects to photograph insects well. You will just need to show their routine. Ants that carry food much larger than themselves, beetles that mate, spiders that hunt…
Finally, it should be noted that to photograph insects, it is better to work in the early hours of the morning. With the cold, the insects are paralyzed. When the sun comes out, they heat up and activate, making it harder to grab.
Alternatives to a macro lens
We said it at the beginning, macro lenses give professional photos of insects but they are not the only option to succeed in this type of photos.
Macro inversion rings
Among the possible alternatives are macro inversion rings, probably the most economical option.
These are rings to be placed on the frame of your camera, on which you will then place your usual lens but upside down. The subject or the insect in question will thus be magnified.
Close-up filters are another great option. These filters are very economical. They install on the lens of your objective and can magnify the scene.
Finally, there are conversion lenses. You have surely heard of them, they are lenses to screw on the lens of your objective.
These conversion lenses act like magnifying glasses by magnifying the subject or item to be photographed. In short, a simple and economical way to get started in macro photography.