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How To Photograph Insects In An Outdoor Field Studio

Edwin Brosens shares his tips on setting up and capturing macro images of insects in an outdoor field studio with pure white backgrounds.

|  Animals / Wildlife
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Carcinal Beetle

You may think that my images of insects captured on white backgrounds were actually taken in an indoor studio environment but you'd be wrong as actually, they were all captured in a field studio I set up outside in the locations / habitat of the insects I'm photographing. 

I photograph insects on a 38% opaque acrylic plate 50x50cm in size with two flashguns that evenly light my subject (as you would when taking someone's portrait in the studio). On one flashgun, which I place underneath the acrylic plate, I use a Falcon-Eyes diffuser. The diffuser ensures the light from the flash is spread evenly across the plate so I don't have problems with shading underneath the insect. I set my second flashgun up on a tripod with an Omni bounce attached and play around with the flash levels until I find a level I'm happy with. 

Robber fly  

Take care when placing insects onto the acrylic plate and do not stop them from moving or flying away. Take the time to understand and learn about their behaviour and never harm your subject. It's also worth noting that insects tend to move around less in the evening or early morning due to cooler temperatures. 

I use a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens when photographing insects and I shoot from a low angle, as close to the acrylic plate as possible. It is important to get the body of the insect sharp and to see all the detail of the segments. As a result, I use an aperture of f/16 and tend to experiment with my exposure times, although I'd advise you start somewhere around 1/100 sec and increase anywhere to 1/1250 sec if needs be. 

Dragonfly

I always shoot in RAW so I can accurately adjust the white balance when editing my shots. To do this, I play around with the highlights and curve options in Lightroom and / or Photoshop. 

Jumping spider

Article and images by Edwin Brosens who is a contributor of meetyourneighbours.net

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