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National Insect Week returns in 2020

Tips for insect photography

1. Take your time

Try not to rush your photographs. There is a huge diversity of insects that can be photographed and each species has its own behaviour to take into account. For example, if you would like to photograph an adult dragonfly, take the time to observe the insect's hovering and perching spots. This considered approach will help to improve the quality of your photographs and you may learn something new about the insect too.

3. Consider the lighting

Photographing small insects can be a great opportunity to play with lighting. Try and make the lighting look as natural as possible by combining some flash with the natural light available. Harsh lighting does not always make for a good image and photographs of insects can look really dramatic at dusk and dawn too. Insects often have iridescent body parts and transparent wings, a simple adjustment of lighting can really show off the subject to its best.

5. Get close

Try photographing a small portion of an insect. For example, the scales on a butterflies wings, the jaws of a ground beetle or the eyes of a damselfly. Find the hidden beauty in the insect and try and show the future viewers of your photograph what cannot be seen with the naked eye.


6. Don't try and control the insect

The most interesting photographs are rarely those that have been taken of an insect enclosed in a dish, or worse still, chilled in a fridge to make them placid. Try to challenge youself to get interesting images of insects in a natural environment, exhibiting their natural behaviours in their usual habitat.

7. Know your kit

Though many good photographs can be taken using conventional lenses, consider a macro lens. Macro lenses are designed to give the photographer great results up-close. They are expensive but can focus on insects from about 6cm away to infinity which makes macro lenses good for general shooting too. There are some less expensive alternatives to a macro. For example, a close-up filter which screws onto the front of another lens, much like a filter. You may also wish to consider an extension tube which sits between the camera body and lens and makes detailed close-ups possible.

8. Use a tripod and flash

A well place tripod can prevent shaky photographs. If you have been patient and observed your subject for some time then setting up a shot from a tripod won't be as restrictive as you might think. Using a flash is often the best way to light small subjects, such as insects.

9. Consider your focal point

The point of focus is very important when shooting small subjects like insects. You can dramatically alter the appearance of your final image by changing where you chose to focus. Even shifting the focus by a few millimetres can make or break a photograph.

10. Enjoy the process 

Try and take in the environment and the behaviour of your chosen insect. Becoming better acquainted with your subject will often mean that the best photographic opportunities present themselves. You will learn about your own methods as well as learning about the insect itself.


Did you know?

Tiny fairies

Fairy wasps are the smallest known insects, the tiniest species is only 0.139 mm long.

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