You may be thinking; insects are gross. And if you are, you are not alone. But if you can get past that visceral reaction, you might find that insect macro photography is an art form worth exploring.
This article will discuss 10 ways to improve your insect macro photography. Some of them are a bit technical, and others are more creative, but they will guide going from good to great.
Insect Macro Photography Tips
1. Preparing the background
If the subject of your macro photograph is not easily visible without magnification, you will need to prepare a dark or black background. This can be as simple as covering a wall in black paper or using a large piece of black cardboard.
If you lack space, you can use many other methods to achieve this result: painting the wall black, flatting out a large piece of cardboard, or using colored paper (white background).
2. Use fill-in flash when using a point-and-shoot camera
When using a point and shoot camera, you need to make sure that you use a fill-in flash whenever possible. This will help the camera gather more light from the scene in question and thus produce a brighter photo.
Fill-in flash will bounce the light from the flash off a wall and into the lens. This technique can be used in any situation, but it will be especially useful for insect macro photography because it will illuminate the insects and their surroundings.
3. Set the camera in manual mode
Any digital camera you want to use for macro photography needs to be set in manual mode (you can figure out how to do this using your camera’s menu settings). This means you will be able to control all settings, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length.
If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, you will have to make sure that the lens is set manually every time you take a shot. You can achieve this by rotating the lens ring on the side of the camera.
4. Shutter Speed (1/30th of a second to 1/60th of a second)
This is one of the most important factors you need to pay close attention to. All it really means is that you need to hold down the shutter button for at least 1/30th of a second, but if you can go faster, even better.
If you are shooting a scene involving motion, you need to keep up that speed. If you don’t, then your picture will be blurred.
5. Exposure (Exposure is a combination of aperture and shutter speed)
Exposure is also known as exposure or lighting. This means that you need to make sure that your photo will not be too dark or too light by changing the amount of light coming into the lens.
In general, if you zoom in on the photo a little bit, you should be able to see an exposure reading (this may vary for lenses).
6. Focal Length
The lens’s focal length is important for both macro photography and stock photography. In macro photography, it will help you keep the subject of your photo in focus. A shorter focal length will have a higher chance of producing blurry photos, while a longer focal length (with a wider angle) will have less chance of producing blurry photos.
7. Low light conditions
In low light situations (i.e., indoors), the shutter speed will need to be faster. While this is usually achieved by using a flash, it can be done without using a flash by increasing the ISO (do this at your own risk). You can also use a tripod.
8. Light and Equipment
If no dark background is available, you need to prepare your lighting situation. One tip is to cover one or more windows (preventing light from entering the room) and turn off unnecessary lights. A second tip is to use a yellow filter for your flash (blue-ish light won’t show up on your photo).
Of course, this method will block out the natural light coming in through the window(s), but it will also allow you to illuminate a wide area in front of your lens easily.
9. Don’t be afraid to use a tripod
A tripod is essential in these situations, but most people still shy away from using one because it can take some getting used to.
Using a tripod for long periods is not hard as long as you have some tips: Use the timer function to set your camera up for a longer exposure time.
Don’t forget to use a flash for lighting. In essence, if your subject does not move, you can set up the tripod and take as long as you want.
10. Practice makes perfect by shooting landscapes
If you are looking to learn more about photography in general, shooting landscapes will be an excellent way. In the end, this is a great way to extend your learning experience. Enlisting the help of a local landscape photographer and trying out their techniques will also help you immensely.
As with so many things, it may take some trial and error before you get the hang of it. But if you follow these ten steps, you should be able to create great insect macro photography in no time at all!