Audio Visual · Digital Printing Group · Cameras

Spring and Summer Macro Photography - Bugs and Flowers

Timothy Farmer
April 28, 2023

We are well into spring and heading towards summer fast.This is one of the best times for macro photography. Flowers are blooming and the bugs are feeding. Let’s talk about how to capture some stunning images.

First let’s talk about gear. Any DSLR or Mirrorless digital camera is capable, the lens makes or break your shot. Ideally, a macro lens (a true macro lens will give at least a 1:1 image ratio of your subject). Every manufacturer makes a macro lens for their system. The Canon 100mm and the Nikon 105mm are well respected for their image quality as is the 60mm macro for Micro 4/3 cameras, Sony’s 90mm f2.8 macro, and Fuji’s 60mm f/2.4 R. At Schillers, we carry Laowa lenses that are a great bang for their buck, the 15mm macro is super fun.

If you are not ready to invest in a new lens or extension tubes, close-up filters are a great cost-effective way to go. These will work with any lens you have. I keep a close-up filter/lens by Promaster in my bag in case I come across an interesting image, and I don’t have my 100mm Macro.

A lot of macro shooters will use a tripod because it is hard to keep your subject in focus unless you are perfectly still. Any movement will throw your focus off. I personally use them for flowers sometime but never on bugs because they move too fast. I set my camera on high speed burst, shooting a set of photos and hoping one will be in focus. This saves time when shooting but adds time culling through images looking for the best composition that’s in focus. Sometime, none are in focus, so there is a cost to shooting this way.

You will get dirty! This is because you will want to get down and low with your subject. That is how you get the interesting shots. You want to get down to your subject’s level, maybe even lower, to make your subject look bigger than it is. Playing with scale will help to make compelling and interesting photos.

A question often asked about macro photography is which lens to get. You can find macro lenses from 15mm -180mm, so which one is best since they are a 1:1 image ratio? Two things come to mind. First, bees and other bug’s sting. A longer lens, like a 180mm, will allow you to be further from your subject which is really helpful when trying to photograph a shy bug. Longer lenses also isolate your subject from the background. A 15mm lens will show a lot behind your subject which can put your subject into the environment, or it can be distracting. Second, what else do you like to shoot? I have the 100mm macro because it is also a wonderful portrait lens. You may choose a wider lens if you do a lot of landscape or architectural photography.

The great thing about doing closeups during this time of year is you are probably already outside doing photography. Having a way to shoot macro opens opportunities. When doing landscape photography, you mainly want to shoot during the golden and blue hours. Having a macro lens with you will allow you to explore and shoot different subjects in the middle of the day when you can find small pools of light. This is a tree found along a hike on the way to photograph a vista at sunset.

Now grab a lens and head outside to shoot.