bug macro photography: up close and creepy

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

by Jessica Nelson

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

I love all things macro. It’s such a fun way to get creative and see the world in a new way.  Shooting bugs with my macro lens is something that I really enjoy. Bugs up close and personal really take on a totally new perspective.  Here are some of my tips that I use when I go out shooting.

1. Be Patient

Bugs take a lot of patience.  They move very fast and they are often hard to catch. Locate a place where you see a lot of bug activity and sit and wait. Make a few test shots to get your settings all ready and when the bugs land near you fire away quickly. Vary your angles – shoot from the top, the front, the side – so that you can capture different details of the bugs.

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

2. Start with Slow Moving Bugs

Find things that don’t move fast that you can practice on. Caterpillars are good to start with. Look for them on the side of a building or on a bush. Find bugs that are injured like a butterfly or a dragonfly. These make great subjects since they are captive. And you can always shoot dead bugs. Yes it may be a little yucky but they are great practice. 😉

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

3. Act Quickly

Don’t delay in pressing your shutter button. Lock focus and immediately shoot. If you delay you may lose the DOF you were striving to get. Tuck your arms in tight, steady yourself (or sit down) and try to stay real still. I even move myself to and fro to get a better focus instead of refocusing the shot. Good clarity is key in bug shots.

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

4. Take a Perspective Shot

Often times bugs looks larger than life in macro shots. Of course they are very tiny so it’s sometimes fun to take a shot of a bug next to something that shows off its size.   It could be a small tree frog next to a thumb nail or a large spider next to a dollar. Its fun to show off just how small they really are.

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

5. Close Down your App and shoot in Full Sun

Macro shots need a lot of light. You need to shoot as closed down as you can because of the narrow DOF. Bugs are no exception. In order to capture all of the details, shoot in the full sun with a closed down app and a high SS. If you can’t find full sun then try to find the brightest area that you can when scouting for bugs. Shooting macro bugs at dusk won’t produce great results.

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

6. And Finally Don’t Get Stung or Bitten

Keep a safe distance and crop in PP.  Shoot close enough you can see enough detail but not too close that you worry about disturbing the bugs. Getting a bee sting for a photo isn’t really worth it!

how to photograph bug macro tutorial by Jessica Nelson

Jessica NelsonJessica Nelson, Maryland
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Jessica Nelson is a serious hobbyist who lives in Maryland with her supportive husband, three camera-tired kids and an energetic rat terrier. Her passion for photography started at a very young age in the darkroom with her father and continued throughout her teen and adult life. She is often seen, camera in hand, chasing her kids around the house to capture their every moment. When they don’t cooperate she is known to take her passion outside to shoot the beautiful nature that surrounds her, since they can’t protest. She enjoys natural light but loves a great studio set up as well. She also dabbles in film from time to time as well as works on her iPhoneography skills. When she is not playing photographer she is working as an engineer, home watching too much bad TV or out camping with the family in their 5th wheel.

Read all photography tutorials by Jessica Nelson.


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