Insect Photography: Art and Techniques

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After shooting the images, transfer them to Helicon Focus image stacking software 8. Stack the images in Helicon Focus 9. In order to enlarge this beetle to the size of a rhinoceros, I would need the most amount of detail possible. I then repeat this process several times until every section of the bug has been imaged. Example of a stacked section of a photograph. Before I began photographing the specimen for the final image, Evie Moran a photography major at CCAD who was doing an internship here at the collection between January and June and I would have to do several of lighting tests to achieve the correct look.

When it comes to photographing insects, their size, shape, and texture can really determine the difficulty in achieving a well lit image. In this case, the size was ideal, but the shape and texture were a little bit more difficult. With beetles in general, the bulbous shell creates difficult reflections, highlights, and shadows that are caused by the lights. In most instances we have to diffuse and even block light on certain sections of the insect to create the kind of highlights, shadows, and contrast necessary for the image.

After a couple hours, we had the eight sections stitched into one single ultra-high resolution image. Ultra-montage image straight out of the camera.


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From there I transitioned into the editing of the image. This included things like color correction and editing the image using Adobe Photoshop to erase the pin, specimen manipulator, and mites that were on the specimen. Editing out the pin and adding a white background. Final image with color correction and Photoshop touch-ups. From that point on, I worked in Adobe Illustrator to design the final image utilizing all the photographs we had taken.

After a good amount of work, I arrived at a point where everyone was happy, and it was time to export the final images for printing. We sent off the images and within a couple of days we received the results!

The last step was the installation of the banners. With a couple of dowel rods, eye bolts, and fishing line, the banners were hung from the drop ceiling waiting to be revealed to the visitors of the Museum Open House. The banner finally installed in the Triplehorn Insect Collection. I hope this image hangs at the entrance of the Triplehorn Insect Collection for some time, and that every guest gets to enjoy it as much as I do. I am a professor experimental psychology, not entomology. I had started scanning images back in for incorporating into my lectures that I projected in front of the classroom.

Insect macro photography techniques – an ongoing experimentation (part I)

I bought a digital camera in for family photos and to document dog behavior. I like the digital, though, because it makes it easy to try something and immediately see if, and how, it worked. Compact flash is like a continuous roll of film that I never run out of. Given my background, I tend to think of the camera as a scanner that you point. When I first got the camera, my then 5 year old son came into my office one day and suggested I photograph a bug that he had his eye on and we did. It was worse than terrible by my current standards, but it did allow us to see the bug in more detail than we could in real life.

That is what got me started and what I enjoy so much about macros. They let you see what you ordinarily cannot.

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As a scientist, I am quite curious by nature. I kept shooting the bugs, had fun, and my camera was reasonably good at it. I also liked that as I developed skills shooting bugs, all of my other photos dogs, family, etc , got better too. The Internet web and photo forums have been my photography teacher. Thus, I am especially thankful to those who have given me honest and constructive critiques.

Insect Photography, Art and Techniques by BEBBINGTON JOHN | | Booktopia

I guess my dream is that one day my images will appear in children's books or other educational materials. I am writing this article because when I post my images on the forums, people often ask how I do it. So I am going to try and tell you. Keep in mind that I am just an self taught amateur who is willing to experiment and has an insatiable curiosity.

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Thus, the internet acronym "YMMV" applies i. Nonetheless, I hope this information is useful to you and enables you to have more fun taking and creating images. Most of my bugs are photographed in the natural environment.

How to Photograph Insects

I don't chill them, or spray them, or glue them, or nail them down. I will sometimes move some blades of grass or vegetation to get a better view. Even less often, I will try to relocate the bug to a new location. Nonetheless, they are always alive and well when I shoot them. Occasionally I will shoot the critter on a building white ones especially or other man made structure. I especially like white buildings, because I can overexpose a bit and remove any remnants of the building in the digital darkroom giving the image a clean, studio-like quality. My goal when photographing the bug is to present it in a positive light; to show it at its best.

I especially like intimate portraits, behavior shots, and full body shots with clean and smooth backgrounds. A close-up lens or diopter enables the camera to focus closer than it normally can. Insect photography is both a challenging and rewarding art. If an image is well shot it can yield stunning results, which can aid study and enhance enjoyment of the natural world. Through introducing insects and their behaviour, it advises on when and how to see nature at work and, by instructing on techniques, it shows how to capture the moment to dramatic effect.

Aimed at all levels of naturalist and photographer, this practical guide also gives detailed advise on different cameras and equipment. In this new fifth edition, the authors introduce the key features of insect structure, function, behaviour, ecology and classification, placed within the latest ideas on insect evolution.


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  8. A strong evolutionary theme is maintained throughout. The ever-growing economic importance of insects is emphasized in new boxes on insect pests, and in chapters on medical and veterinary entomology, and pest management. All chapters are thoroughly updated with the latest results from international studies.

    It features an accompanying website with downloadable illustrations and links to video clips.

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