Insect Photography Best Tips and Techniques

Insect Photography

Use the right equipment

First and foremost you need a camera that suits your needs. If you are serious about photography then you need a digital SLR camera. A digital SLR camera is far superior to a point and shoot, it will allow you to capture your images more precisely and accurately.

The key to getting great photos is to use the right equipment and this applies to any subject. If you want to take photos of insects, you need a macro lens. This lens will enable you to zoom in on your insect, and get close to it, so that you can achieve the perfect shot.

As you are going to be working with insects, there are a few additional items that you will need. Firstly you will need a tripod. This allows you to stand comfortably while taking your shots and it will ensure you have a stable platform.

Secondly you will need a flash unit. This is useful as you are going to be using a macro lens, which does not have much light reaching the sensor, so you need a flash. If you are using a flash unit with your camera it can be used in manual mode and set to a low power setting. This will enable you to adjust the flash brightness manually to suit the lighting conditions.

Lastly you will need a remote shutter release. Using a remote release is great as it means that you do not need to touch the camera at all. When you are photographing a subject, it can be distracting having to hold the camera in place. Also, you may accidentally move the camera if you are holding it, and this will cause the picture to be blurry.

Using these few items will enable you to take great insect pictures.

If you are planning to photograph ants, butterflies or other invertebrates, then you will need some specific equipment. The main thing is that you need a dark room.

If you are not familiar with taking photos, then you can buy a cheap kit. You could invest in a digital camera, an external flash, and a macro lens.

Make sure you know how to operate your camera and how to take good photographs.

Ask questions

If you are struggling with taking good pictures, then the first step is to ask someone who knows how to take photographs. This could be your local library or a professional photographer. Ask for advice and get help from them. They will be able to show you how to take better photos.

You may also find it helpful to go to a photographic society. This is where you can join a club and share experiences. There are many photographic societies around the UK, and you can find out about one near you.


It is important that you practise with your new camera. Take some time to master the controls of the camera. This will help you improve your skills and get used to using it.

Take some time to practice before you start shooting. Take your camera along and take some pictures of objects around you.

Once you feel comfortable, then take some pictures of insects. You will probably be surprised at how simple it is. You can take your own subjects, but it is more fun to take pictures of insects that you find.

Don’t forget to use your camera’s manual. This will tell you everything you need to know to take great insect pictures.

What do you do to get interesting shots?

A camera allows you to see things you can’t normally see, such as insects. Getting your subject to sit still and look at the lens requires skill. Try not to frighten the insect with sudden movements. Use a flash if you need to and focus on the subject’s eyes. It might help if you have a small mirror to reflect light onto the subject’s eyes.

Make sure the light source is not coming from behind your subject. A strong light might blind your insect. Try taking photos in a darkened room. It’s difficult to photograph something that is moving. You might be able to photograph some butterflies and moths with a long exposure, but most species of bugs don’t sit still.

Get the bug to sit still.

Try photographing insects in a natural setting where they are feeding on flowers. You might like to get close to your subject, using a small zoom lens. You can also try making a pinhole camera by cutting a hole in a piece of card.

Be patient.

If you are photographing something moving, set your camera to take a long exposure. This gives you time to compose your picture and move closer. The longest exposure you need depends on your camera’s speed. For example, for a 1-second exposure you will need a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second. If your camera has a timer button, you can set the shutter speed to this value and press the button.

Use flash.

If your insect is sitting still and not moving, you can use flash to provide a steady background. Turn on the flash and adjust the shutter speed until the light is right. It might help if you have a small mirror to reflect light onto your subject’s eyes.

Use the manual mode.

If your camera has a manual mode, you can control the settings to produce the best pictures. You can change the aperture and shutter speed, and choose whether to use autofocus or manual focus.

Focus on the subject’s eyes.

Focus is vital. It’s easier to focus your camera on a bright object rather than a dark one.

Try to get the right shot.

Photographing insects is not straightforward. When you take a photo, you must get the right view. The camera’s viewfinder will show you what you are going to capture, but it is not always accurate.

You can use a range of views to compose your picture. You can use the wide angle view to take a picture of a whole insect. To take a close-up, you might try the telephoto view, which is useful for looking at tiny details.

Some insects are very active. If your insect is jumping around, you will need a long exposure to catch it in the right position. For this you should use a remote trigger or timer.