Nov 13, 2012

12 Insect Macro Photography Tips


Photo Tip #1: Turn off auto-focus when time and photo object permits and get into the habit of using manual focus instead. Use the magnifying camera feature to precisely pin your focus point. Works wonder when the insect remains still but when the bug is on the move consider final sharp focusing through carefully moving camera and lens back and forward.

Photo Tip #2: Get up early and take advantage of insects being often lethargic and moving slowly. This will allow for a calmer photo gear set up without the insect immediately fleeing the scene. A carefully composed image will result in more attractive compositions.

Photo Tip #3: Use a Sturdy Tripod or monopod and head to stabilize camera and lens and minimize camera shake during photo exposure.

Photo Tip #4: Choose an appropriate aperture setting to control and achieve sufficient Depth of Field. Large f-stop number (small aperture) provides maximum depth of field while small f-stop number (large aperture) minimizes depth of field. The photographic goal is to obtain a razor sharp bug picture while leaving the background in blur. An out of focus background solely stirs all attention to the insect and is much desired for insect macro photographs. Adjust your ISO setting as necessary to compensate for slower shutter speeds when shooting with small apertures.

Photo Tip #5: Capture frame filling images and explore different angles and perspectives for more compelling compositions and close up pictures. 

Photo Tip #6: Take multiple photos to increase your chance for a striking and in focus insect macro photography image.  

Photo Tip #7: Keep an eye on the background and eliminate glare on leaves or distracting branches. Isolating the insect against a clean background is crucial for a successful photography image. Utilize colorful scrubs and flowers to your compositional advantage as an attractive backdrop of color when appropriately blurred out via aperture or focal lens setting. Including an Attractive Background features like a second flower may add a story to the image.

Photo Tip #8: Get down low and photograph the motif at eye level. At times it will be uncomfortable and difficult but it will provide more compelling and better photography results.


Photo Tip #9: Avoid direct or harsh sunlight. Plan your close up photography shoot on overcast days since a cloudy sky softens the light and beautifully balances color and image.


Photo Tip #10: Start photographing from a distance and then slowly move in closer for your next shot. Often they remain on the spot or return shortly after.

Photo Tip #11: Watch the bug’s behavior and habitat. Insects often return to the same spot over and over again. Keep your setup ready and be patient, it will pay off in the long run.

Photo Tip #12: Finding a suitable macro photography subject is probably the most challenging part. Know what you desire to photograph and study the environment the insect can be found in. Once you discover a desired insect start watching its behavior. Pick a local butterfly garden in a nearby wildlife sanctuary or your own garden and choose a certain area like a bush, leaves, or flowers. Watch carefully and see what nature provides. Train your eyes to discover the masters of camouflage and enjoy the hide and seek game most insects will play with you.


  1. Great tips! Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Sometimes is difficult to use a tripod with relatively longer exposures and at the same time having the lucky of not having wind or any other movement during the capture. But as you mentioned it is a matter of patience and luck.

  2. Thanks Fernando! I hear you about the use of a tripod but it really makes the difference when one aims for sharper pictures. Alternatively one can increase ISO setting to increase shutter speed and try to handhold the camera ... not a bad option either. When there is a time concern that doesn't allow for immediately setup I sometimes handhold the camera and take a few pictures and then set up while crossing my fingers to improve on the quality of the image ... glad you enjoyed this macro photography blog post! I wonder what others think? My best, Juergen

  3. Superb tips! You really nailed it in a concise fashion here! Shooting active little critters with a macro lens is no easy feat! KUDOS!

  4. Thanks so much for commenting on my insect macro photography tips John ... glad you enjoyed the photo tips and macro pictures!