Nikon D600, AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G, 1/1250 second, f/10, ISO 800, aperture priority, Matrix metering © Diane Berkenfeld
With warmer weather surely on the way, it will soon be a good time to get outside and share the sunshine with the little creatures that will be emerging. Why not make them the subject of your photography? There are more than one million known species of insects inhabiting our world, and many of these tiny creatures are right outside your door.
Nikon D300S, AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G, 1/100 second, f/8, ISO 200, aperture priority, Matrix metering. © Lindsay Silverman
A few tips on shooting insects
- Insects are more mobile in warm weather, so photograph them in the early morning or evening when it is cooler, and they will be moving slower. The available light at those times of day will be more flattering too.
- Use a macro lens that will allow you to focus when you’re really up close. A macro lens (Nikon calls them Micro-NIKKOR lenses) will capture your subjects at near life size.
- Use a tripod and cable release to steady the camera, especially when you’re using a telephoto lens or long shutter speed. Some photographers will go the added step of locking up the mirror on their D-SLR prior to tripping the shutter. This further reduces the possibility of movement.
- Use a shallow depth of field to get your insect to stand out from the background. Low f/stops, like f/2.8 will give you a shallow depth of field, which pinpoints the focus on your subject, while the background goes out of focus.
- Position your camera so that your brightly lit subject is photographed against a dark background. Exposing for a well-lit subject, under full daylight or with a fill-flash, will cause a dark background to underexpose and approach black. This effect creates a dark, even background, making the subject stand out.
- If the subject and background are both brightly lit, the insect may be difficult to separate from its surroundings. Placing a household item like a piece of cloth or paper behind the subject can work as a portable studio backdrop, isolating the bug against a plain background and setting it apart from its surroundings.
- Keeping your close-up images simple can give you the most dramatic and beautiful results.
- Patience and persistence will pay off. Good luck!
Are there any tips you think are missing? Leave your suggestions in the comments box, we’d love to hear your ideas.