The Minuscule World

Wonders of the Microcosm

Butterfly feeding on nectar © Karthik R Bhat
Butterfly feeding on nectar © Karthik R Bhat
17 OCT 2014

Let’s say you just found a deadly spider living in your garden. What would you do?

A) Run away
B) Dump some pesticide or
C) Get your camera

Well, of course the answer is “C”! Although getting a shot of a spider or an insect isn’t really easy, macro photography lets you enter the beautifully tiny world of insects. Insects and their environment allow macro photographers to capture their colourful world in a number of ways. Bugs can be found just about everywhere, and most of them make for a very good subject. It is possible that you are not going to like photographing insects. You will never know until you try.

My interest in macro photography began when I clicked a close-up shot of a butterfly with my first point and shoot camera. The reason why macro photography is special, is because you can see more details in the image than with the naked eye. Patience is very important when it comes to macro photography. You may fail a hundred times in the attempt to focus on your subject but you must never stop trying. Most of the times, I prefer to photograph bugs in their natural environment. I don’t hurt or kill any insects. Sometimes using a small leaf or grass to move your subject and get the right composition may help. My goal is to take photos of small pests and other insects in my garden and a never-before-seen world of bugs.

As you keep practicing macro photography, you also learn a lot about insect behaviour and their habits. You will know which insect to find on which flower or the right time to photograph a particular insect. So, what you’re doing is making great photos and also increasing your knowledge. After taking your photos, you can use google images or insect identification forums on social networking sites to find the name of the insect. By doing this, you can obtain as much information as you can about its behaviour. Find out whether it’s poisonous or not, find out when it is active and when it is not. All these details will help you get better pictures in the future.

My most common subjects are lynx spiders, jumping spiders, bees, wasps, butterflies and some common pests like shield bug. I, personally, love shooting spiders because of their unique body pattern, colours and their eyes. They can also be found on almost every plant. Avoid provoking or disturbing dangerous insects while you are shooting .

Talking about the macro equipment, a true macro lens gives you 1:1 magnification. These lenses are usually fairly expensive. For people with a lower budget: you can try macro filters or adapters or the macro reverse ring; a flash can also be used to bring more details to your photos, but be careful not to overexpose your photos. Many people recommend using a tripod to eliminate motion blur, but I never use a tripod because it’s clunky and takes a lot of time to set up and adjust.

Here are some tips on taking good photos of insects:

  1. Be patient
  2. Use manual focus
  3. Make good use of backlight
  4. Shoot during early mornings and late afternoons
  5. Avoid shaking

Love all the living creatures around you, keep taking pictures and never give up.

I will conclude by saying that we must spend less time being afraid of insects and more time admiring them and taking photos. As a self-taught amateur, I have learnt a lot from the internet and photo forums. Since insects are found everywhere, there is no excuse not to go out and find some to photograph. I’m sure you will be surprised to find new insects varying in colours, shapes and sizes.

These are just some of the reasons why insect photography is so appealing.

Happy Hunting!

Written by Karthik R Bhat
Find him on Facebook and Instagram