The art of Macro photography becomes even more challenging when you consider the subject. Insects and bugs present a very interesting subject matter for macro photography. Not only must the photographer go out and find the subject occurring naturally, they also have to go about it the correct way. All nature photography involving living things requires a different approach, and that can not be more true when considering tiny, living, breathing beings we call insects.
Megachile lanata, female, face_2012-06-26-16.35.56 ZS PMax by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory, on Flickr
The photographer must learn how to get close enough for the shot without startling the bug(s), which is very challenging because most bugs are prey to other animals and are on high alert most of the time. The photographer also must be quick-thinking, be very familiar with their camera settings and be able to change them subtly, quietly, and quickly. Macro bug photography presents a new set of challenges, but you don't have to go in blind. There are many internet tips and tutorials available to help you begin, or, help you to improve your existing macro insect photography methods.
100 Macro Bug Photographs – Okay, so you caught me, this isn't a tutorial. However, it is 100 pictures of creepy crawly, sometimes flying and always fascinating bugs in close-up detail. There is your inspiration, now let's learn something.
Matt Cole Wildlife Photography Macro Bug Tips – This is a thorough tutorial with hints and tips on macro bug photography, focusing mainly on camera settings, composition, and lighting. Two big tips included here are to get to eye level with the insect, and do not shoot in full sun.
Insect Macro Photography by M. Plonsky – This is perhaps one of the best macro bug tutorials in my opinion. Here you have a professor and scientist who stumbled upon the art of macro bug photography by accident when his son asked him to take a picture of a bug with one of his first digital cameras. It grew into a fascination and became a fine art to him. Plonsky's images are stunning and he walks through every possible step of the process in this tutorial, including equipment, lens reversal, lighting, etc.
Macro Bug Photography for Beginners – If you are not familiar with macro, perhaps starting with bugs is a little ambitious. They move, they fly, and they are suspicious of being splattered with somebody's shoe, so maybe starting with inanimate objects is the way to begin. However, it is possible to begin with bugs and if you must come out with guns blazing, this is a great tutorial for beginners to macro and bugs.
The Complete Guide for Photographing Live Insects – While trial and error is one of the best ways to learn anything new, why not learn from the mistakes of others instead of making the same ones? This tutorial was written by a photographer who had only been exploring the avenue of macro bug photography for 18 months, and as the author says, in the beginning there were a lot of bad photographs. This tutorial starts with equipment and lenses, and covers a wide range of topics from the beginning to end of the process.
Photographing Insects – This guide goes back to more of the basics: focus, closeness, colors, and action. It culminates in recommended equipment and settings.
Augochlorella aurata, face, Camden County, Georgia_2013-01-10-14.02.49 ZS PMax by USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Laboratory, on Flickr
Beautiful Bugs Macro Bug Photography – The beauty of bugs and how to capture it. Well, I guess you can't deny that bugs do offer a ton of amazing textures and colors, and they definitely elicit a response when we see them up close. This tutorial goes through everything from the very basic to the more advanced, all while maintaining a very respectful attitude towards insects.
Macro Tutorial Video – WARNING! Spiders! They'll sneak up on you if you're not careful, but this video is great regardless. The photographer has a great attitude towards macro photography, specifically that of insects and bugs. He uses a homemade diffuser on his flash, and he says that anybody can accomplish the same things that he does.
Turn any lens into a macro lens – This video is only one minute and twelve seconds long, but it shows you how to create macro lenses using the reverse lens method.
Macro Insect Photography by Thomas Shahan – Thomas is one of the most notable insect photographers on Flickr. If you need inspiration, specifically for subject matter, look no further than here.
The Ultimate Guide to Macro Bug Photography – This tutorial focuses not only on the act of macro bug photography, but on how to focus and bring out specific areas of the photograph. It's almost like the macro of macro bug photography. Most people shoot with a small aperture when photographing in macro, but this gives you another take on it.
Basic Macro Bug Photography – The title of this specific tutorial is kind of misleading, this tutorial is basic, but it also goes into depth about photographing bugs in a controlled environment by cooling them so they cannot move as quickly. Bear in mind that taking the insects out of their natural environment will give you a different feel to your photographs, but for practice, this method can work really well. Be careful not to kill them, though!
Insect Macro Photography – Equipment, Software, and Settings – This tutorial video doesn't only focus on the basics of cameras, formatting (such as RAW files), but it also goes on to go into detail about software, equipment, and settings. This is a good all-around tutorial for beginners.
Macro Photography with Flash – This video tutorial focuses on photographing butterflies with flash. This technique uses the flash to illuminate the insect, in this case, a butterfly, and darkens the background. The video is very short but also very useful.
If you have taken the time to go through these links, even if you picked out just a few specifically for your experience level, you will be well on your way to a better understanding of macro photography, specifically of small, moving, living creatures. There is no limit to the information available on the internet on this topic, but it can be easy to get lost when weeding through the bad and good, so I hope that I was able to do that for you. There should be something for everybody here, now get out there and start shooting. Just stay safe and remember most bugs are only as creepy as you let them be, but try not to touch them unless you know what they are, just in case!