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There are more than a million known species of insects living in our world, and many of these tiny creatures can be found just outside your door. By the way, an insect is an arthropod. To be classified as an insect, it must possess a segmented body, six legs, two antennae, compound eyes, and, in some cases, wings. Other creatures, such as spiders and scorpions, also belong to the arthropod family but are not considered insects and high quality images. It can be a lot of fun to photograph insects and other small creatures. For your need for adventure, just go to your garden to discover a whole new universe in close-ups: macro photography.


The first fundamental rule of macro photography is to get close to the subject. To photograph insects you need a macro lens that allows you to focus on the subject very closely. A macro lens (this type of lens is called Micro-NIKKOR lenses by Nikon) allows you to photograph your subjects near life-size.

You will also want to use a tripod to secure the camera, particularly when using a telephoto lens or a slow shutter speed. Shooting with the camera fixed on the tripod, using a shutter release button on the cable to release the shutter, is the ideal shooting method and attain creative stock images. Some photographers take the extra step of raising the mirror on their DSLRs before releasing the shutter. This step further reduces the range of motion. If you don't have a shutter button on the cable, you can use the camera's self-timer.

Depending on how close you can get, you will be able to fully insert the entire body of the insect or a portion of it, such as the head and antennae, into the frame. Be careful and don't get stung.

Insects possess attractive bodies and one of the goals of macro photography is to emphasize all the colors and details of their microcosm. Ideal macro photography puts the camera's focus on the eyes, legs, and bodies of these insects and their tiny world. For example, taking a picture of a spider in its web tells a more interesting story.

The background color plays an important role in the composition. If the subject is dark in color, such as many insects, a lighter, out-of-focus background will make the creature stand out from its surroundings and draw the viewer's attention to it.

The technique for making an insect stand out from the background is to use a shallow depth of field. The depth of field is defined as the area in front of and behind the subject to be in focus. The depth of field is determined by the aperture setting. Low f / values such as f / 2.8 give you a shallow depth of field, which pinpoints the focus on the subject while the background is out of focus.

Another technique that nature photographers use is to position the camera so that a very bright subject is photographed against a dark background. Exposure for a well-lit subject, such as in broad daylight, or with a fill flash, will underexpose the dark background which will appear almost black. This effect creates a solid dark background that makes the subject stand out and get high quality images.

But if the subject and background are both very bright, it can be difficult to separate the insect from its surroundings. Arranging a household object, such as a piece of cloth or paper behind the subject can act as a portable studio base, isolating the insect against a uniform background and distinguishing it from its surroundings.

Insects are more mobile when the temperature is warm: photograph them early in the morning or in the evening when it is cooler and they will move more slowly. The light available at these times of day will be even better and get creative stock images.

As with any form of photography, simply keeping the images close together can ensure the most exciting and outstanding results. Patience and perseverance always bear fruit. Good depth of field and subject isolation are two points to keep in mind for exceptional macro photography.


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