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Thread: how do you take macro shots of insects?

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    Default how do you take macro shots of insects?

    I have seen many nice pictures posted in the Macro and Close-up forum, especially those pictures with butterflies and dragonflies. However, these creatures are extremely tough to approach. How does the experts manage to approach these creatures close enough to get a shot?

    This is what I have gathered:
    Insects are cold blooded animals that relies on its surrounding to regulate its body temperature. As such, the best times to approach these creatures are during dawn and after rain, when the body temperature of the insects had dropped drastically and thus relatively inert to flight.

    However, since the temperature in Singapore is so warm, does this work? Do the local experts take insect macrophotography during dawn and after rainfall? Please advice.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Certain insects are very sensitive to movement such as butterflies. The thing is u've to approach very slowly and quietly. Others such as spiders, grasshoppers, stilt flies are easier to approach.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    The other day, I tried to approach a grasshopper slowly and carefully. But the moment I squart down to get a shot, the grasshopper jumped off.

    Further, I see that there are quite a number of dragonfly and butterfly photographer around. I find these incredibly hard to approach, but nonetheless, will to try a shot on these beautiful creatures.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantaresg View Post
    The other day, I tried to approach a grasshopper slowly and carefully. But the moment I squart down to get a shot, the grasshopper jumped off.

    Further, I see that there are quite a number of dragonfly and butterfly photographer around. I find these incredibly hard to approach, but nonetheless, will to try a shot on these beautiful creatures.
    I find dragonflies, spiders, grasshoppers and other slower moving insects easier to take. Butterflies are hardest for me cos most of the time they just fly off.
    Canon EOS 5D, 24-70 f/4 L IS, 50 f/1.2 L, 70-300 f/4-5.6 L IS, 600EX-RT. Sigma 12-24 f/4.5-5.6 EX.

  5. #5

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Patience is the key... have to approach a dragonfly slowly as they will fly off with the slightest movement that they sense.. but still possible to shoot. I'm still learning to shoot them. I have to balance myself in a awkward position on uneven ground to get the front shot of a dragonfly last weekend and I was chasing it for sometime before I could get that front shot.
    A true photograph need not be explained, nor can it be contained in words.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Sometimes you have to see the mood. I've gotten as close as 10 cm to butterflies if they happen to be a in very rest-y mood. Dragonflies are a lot less jumpy, so they're actually very easy to shoot.

    Generally you would want a long lens, most of the Butterfly people seem to use 180mm macro lens, for non-flying insects like spiders and grasshoppers a shorter focal length is possible.

    If it's butterflies in particularly that you're interested in - to me they are one of the most challenging insects to shoot.. Bluesteel has given some tips in his Sharing a Few Butterflies thread already, so you can check it out, the thread is not very clumped yet. Different insects have different habits.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Yes, I'm more interested in butterflies, but I am willing to start on easier creatures. Perhaps the creature that I was approaching was out of its natural environment, that's why it jumped away the moment it sense I was too close to approach.

    So which is the best creature to start with?

  8. #8

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantaresg View Post
    Yes, I'm more interested in butterflies, but I am willing to start on easier creatures. Perhaps the creature that I was approaching was out of its natural environment, that's why it jumped away the moment it sense I was too close to approach.

    So which is the best creature to start with?
    Anything will do. But I think unless you have a macro setup you won't have fun taking pictures and cropping massively.. Do you have anything like that yet? i.e. dedicated macro lens, reverse lens setup, extension tubes, or combination of all these and more

    Spiders are pretty easy if you catch them in their natural environment. Natural environment insects/critters tend to be less wary if you ask me. But please remember to bring insect repellent if you're planning on doing an Ubin or anything like that. Mozzies are a pain in the ass and everywhere else they have access to.

    Which creature did you startle? No sudden movements. Slow and steady, don't need to be grandfather standard, but just nothing too quick. Dragonflies and grasshoppers are pretty easy too. Dragonflies are very forgiving insects.. =) Even if you startle them sometimes they just return to their favourite perch. And they're pretty easy to find here and there too. Most town parks with a pond of some sorts would have them. 55mm non macro lens is able to shoot dragonflies albeit with a little cropping since they are bigger insects, so you might want to TFCD them..

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    currently, I have a 180mm macro plus a 1.4x TC. The only problem is it is rather tough on the handholding side.

  10. #10

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantaresg View Post
    currently, I have a 180mm macro plus a 1.4x TC. The only problem is it is rather tough on the handholding side.
    Take more shots then, sometimes if you're taking from a lower angle you can always assume a better position where handshake less possible.

    Bump up ISO, most of my recent butterfly shots (new to butterfly photography) are at ISO 800.. Of course I can afford it because the Pentax K100D's noise performance isn't too shabby. Depends on your body though. Some of the butterfly guys use a monopod too.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    By the way, it was a grasshopper that jumped onto the pavement. I took almost 2 minutes to get to about 50 cm from the creature, but as I begun to squart, it just jumped away.

    I think the ISO performance of my camera should be able to take ISO 800, though I prefer to stick to below 400 usually. If I find the handholding to tough, I shall bump up the ISO. Shall post some pictures if I ever suceed.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Use flash.

    Can call Ortega for advise. ORTEGA!!!

    Regards,
    Arto.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by cantaresg View Post
    I have seen many nice pictures posted in the Macro and Close-up forum, especially those pictures with butterflies and dragonflies. However, these creatures are extremely tough to approach. How does the experts manage to approach these creatures close enough to get a shot?

    This is what I have gathered:
    Insects are cold blooded animals that relies on its surrounding to regulate its body temperature. As such, the best times to approach these creatures are during dawn and after rain, when the body temperature of the insects had dropped drastically and thus relatively inert to flight.

    However, since the temperature in Singapore is so warm, does this work? Do the local experts take insect macrophotography during dawn and after rainfall? Please advice.
    not an expert, i started doing macro with a reversed 50mm lens, and after that acquired a 180mm lens too. but insects are really not that difficult to approach even in the middle of the day. some tips

    1. avoid brightly coloured clothings
    2. no sudden movement
    3. use monopod for additional support
    4. when there's sufficient daylight use flash to fill (especially if photographing from sides and sunlight is harsh)
    5. diffuse flashlight to avoid harsh shadows
    6. look out for insects' ''favourite perches'' (especially dragonflies)
    7. patience

    i think spiders are quite good to start with

    Quote Originally Posted by cantaresg View Post
    By the way, it was a grasshopper that jumped onto the pavement. I took almost 2 minutes to get to about 50 cm from the creature, but as I begun to squart, it just jumped away.
    it's easier to photograph insects in their turf than when they are out in the open

    when they are in their natural habitat, they are more comfortable doing their camouflage/concealment acts and ''feel'' less threatened
    Last edited by eikin; 29th May 2007 at 09:40 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Sun Tzu said, "Know you enemy, know yourself and a thousand battles are won." No difference for shooting insects - its shooting right? :-)

    So the most important - apart from your skills and "weapons" - is to know your "enemy".

    And different creatures have different habits - rest vs alert, human friendliness or not, etc.

    And actually one of the easiest insects to start are dragonflies.

    For although they fly fast and erractically, they also rest a lot, and often returning to the same or near the same spot after being disturbed. Also they do allow humans to approach rather close - they are not that jumpy, maybe cos they are most confident they can fly away from any pesky humans.

    So this is how you go about shooting dragonflies.

    If you see one perched somewhere. Then compose in your mind and approach from the angle of choice. Never mind if they fly away. Just position yourself, be still and wait. More likely than not, they will return. If not then reject that dragon and pick another one. And once you got a cooperative dragon you just shoot away.

    Then you can post your trophy shot here and boast, oops I mean tell us all how you did it. :-)

    I am sure you have seen those dragon pics with big big eyes. These are shot with macro + extensions, etc etc as close as millimetres from the dragon's head. And thats is posible. Dragonflies can be very cooperative TFCD subjects. :-)

    Birds are actually hardest to shoot. After that I think maybe butterflies, especially those huge and strong fliers. So you cheat and try to catch them when they are sleeping, if you can find them.

    Spideys, beetles, ladybirds,hoppers, kathydids etc etc are all relatively easy once you are able to shoot dragon. And also once you can shoot dragons, they become so boring - they are too easy. The challenge then becomes to shoot them at hover or in flight. I think I manage only once catching dragons in hover.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Whatever they said above + IMHO, one of the important thing to focus is the eyes of the insects Try to get to eye level if possible, it'll help give dimensions to your shots

    For butterflies, try the morning. They tend to be less active.
    Last edited by longko; 29th May 2007 at 10:02 AM.

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    I'll give it a try within the next few days. Hopefully I can pick myself from bed early on thurs and get some shots. Thanks for the advice.

  17. #17

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    lol just camp, wait and shoot......one of the thing which pple hate most for online 1st person shooter games

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    Senior Member cichlid's Avatar
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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Can someone gives tips on how to locate spiders.

    I have only managed to spot 1 on a tree trunk.

    Do I have to go deep into the forest or what ?

  19. #19

    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by cichlid View Post
    Can someone gives tips on how to locate spiders.

    I have only managed to spot 1 on a tree trunk.

    Do I have to go deep into the forest or what ?
    Look closer. Under leaves, at the canopy.

    You want big big spiders, go to Pulau Ubin. There are probably more spiders in there than there are people in Singapore. Just look at the roadside have already. If you really go, please use insect repellent! There are also loads of mosquitoes. =D

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    Default Re: how do you take macro shots of insects?

    Quote Originally Posted by Artosoft View Post
    Use flash.

    Can call Ortega for advise. ORTEGA!!!

    Regards,
    Arto.
    someone called?

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