- Close-focusing compact will work if you don't have a DSLR.
- Macro lens – Easiest way to get close to your subject.
- If you don't own a macro lens a telezoom with a macro mode and a close-up lens will get you close but you may need even more magnification so consider using extension tubes. Another option is to use a teleconverter.
- Clamps – Hold grass and twigs out of frame.
- Support – A monopod will allow you to be more flexible than a tripod.
Get up early
During the day most insects are most active so you need to be a little more mobile. If you do plan on chasing ladybirds around the garden you may find a monopods a more useful support than a tripod. If you don't want to run around your garden just get up earlier and work during the morning or if you don't like getting out of bed too early, you can work later in the evening too. At this time ladybirds are just warming up, if you're shooting in a morning, or cooling down before they roost, if you're working in the evening which means they're less active.
Check for movement and look for shadows
The smallest of breezes can cause twigs and leaves to move which can lead to a blurry shot so wait for the wind to stop or try creating your own natural perch that's supported by clamps etc. so it won't sway in the breeze. Make sure you position yourself and your kit so you don't cast a shadow on your subject because it can cause exposure problems and as your subject uses sunlight to keep warm, cover them with shade and they are more likely to fly away.
The red shades of a Ladybird look great when contrasted against grassy colours, even more so when they're thrown out of focus, leaving the ladybird the main focus point of the shot. An aperture around f/8 will give more depth-of-field but you have to make sure that you do not compromise shutter speeds if you do that. If you find the colours need a boost or details slightly lacking, add a little fill-in flash.
When you get close to a ladybird you'll soon realise that, actually, they move a lot quicker than you thought. As a result, switch to manual focus and make small, constant adjustments to keep the ladybird sharp. Having said that, you may struggle to keep sharpness across the whole of the ladybird, even with the use of small apertures so just pick the most important part of your image and focus on getting that sharp.
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