Insect Pictures thumbnails only

Polyphemus Moth Polyphemus Moth
The Polyphemus Moth is very beautiful - especially when they are just out of their cocoon. This Polyphemus Moth has not taken its first flight yet, and with perfect wings, required almost no post processing. Light is from a setting sun.
 
This shot made great use of the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Lens' image stabilization. IS helped me frame the shot precisely, tightly and kept the shot sharp at 1/50 sec. The camera position is such that the entire length of wings falls into the plane of sharp focus.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/50s  ISO 100
Black Swallowtail Butterfly 2 Black Swallowtail Butterfly 2

 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Monarch Butterfly 2 Monarch Butterfly 2
A Monarch Butterfly feeds on a red Zinnia flower. This photo was shot in the studio using large softboxes and monolights. How do you get a Monarch butterfly into the studio? You raise them from an egg (or caterpillar). Fortunately, my daughter loves doing this and provides me with the subjects for shots such as this one. One of the big advantages to having a brand new butterfly is that the wings are void of any tattering. The Monarchs are released as soon as they can fly.
 
180mm  f/11.0  1/200s  ISO 100
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Picture Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Picture

 
100mm  f/22  1/200s  ISO 100
Spangled Fritillary Butterfly Spangled Fritillary Butterfly
Few natural subjects surpass flowers and butterflies in colorfulness. Planting flowers that attract butterflies takes advantage of both and planting them in your yard means fast access to these great subjects.
 
Don't have a garden of your own? Don't want to do the work? Others love gardening. Find someone who has this passion and share your photography passion with them in the form of images and prints. Alternatively, find a public garden.
 
Coneflowers are one of my favorite flowers and a small garden of them behind the house provided hours of distraction (I mean "gear evaluation") for me this summer. The shape of the flower permits full view of the butterfly and the working area keeps the butterfly busy long enough to get the photo. Because these flowers are planted on a bank, I can shoot horizontally across the flower tops (to get blurred blooms in the background) without lying on the ground. A raised planting box offers a similar advantage.
 
Most macro lenses work well for flowers, but butterflies are sometimes not comfortable with a lens close to them. Longer focal lengths permit longer working distances. In this case, the spangled fritillary butterfly was quite tolerant of my presence and I was able to utilize the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro Lens at a close distance.
 
I'm still struggling to retrain my brain to frame slightly wider with the extreme resolution of the Canon EOS 5Ds R available, allowing minor cropping to achieve perfect framing during post processing. The result in this case was that the butterfly's antenna was slightly closer to the right edge of the frame than I wanted. Fortunately, I had taken multiple photos and was able to add a small strip to the right side of this image, with ideal wing position, from one of the others for a 52.9 megapixel final image size.
 
I used a Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash with a camera exposure that balanced the ambient background lighting. Because the coneflower petals were closer to the flash than the butterfly, they were slightly brighter than I wanted. I decreased the brightness of the RAW file and overlaid the darker flower petals on the brighter butterfly and background.
 
What is in your flower bed? If the ideal flowers are not there, add them! Then get ready for your summer color.
 
100mm  f/4.0  1/160s  ISO 100
Dobsonfly (Helgrammite) Picture Dobsonfly (Helgrammite) Picture
This is one bad looking bug! This is a picture of an adult female Dobsonfly. Many people refer to them as a Helgrammite (actually the name of the larva).
 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Snowberry Clearwing Moth Caterpillar Picture Snowberry Clearwing Moth Caterpillar Picture

 
100mm  f/16  1/180s  ISO 100
Just Metamorphosized Monarch Butterfly Just Metamorphosized Monarch Butterfly
Capturing good butterfly pictures can be challenging. Perhaps the biggest two challenges to butterfly photography are constant, significant subject motion and tattered wings.
 
Butterflies are seldom still and often have a mild fear of humans. Add a little wind to their lightweight, wing-dominated bodies and even a stationary butterfly has motion.
 
Tattered wings are often best overcome by finding a new subject. It is hard to get a great butterfly picture without a near perfect wings and butterfly wings seem to deteriorate rapidly in their short lives. Even good quality subjects can require significant post processing to make wing repairs.
 
Raise your own subjects and these two challenges are erased. Well, erased for a short period of time at least. The kids have taken such an interest in monarch butterflies that we now have milkweed (the monarch caterpillar's food source) growing amongst a section of our house landscape. I'm not sure what others think about these "weeds" in our landscape, but ... the girls collected some monarch eggs this summer and raised them indoors, out of the reach of predators. Last week, the monarch metamorphosis moved from the chrysalis stage to the butterfly stage.
 
A bit of warning is given before the butterflies hatch – the color of the chrysalis turns from bright green to transparent, showing the dark butterfly tightly packaged inside. But, it takes a watchful eye to see the chrysalis open as this event occurs very quickly. Once open, the monarch pumps its wings up rather quickly and then appears to remain the same – and motionless – for a long enough period of time to capture many photos.
 
I was ready for this particular hatching. I had the milkweed leaf holding the chrysalis in a Delta Grip-It Clamp that was sitting on the kitchen island. A moderate distance behind the main subject was a cardboard box with a sheet of printer paper taped onto it.
 
A Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash was mounted to a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro Lens and the lens was mounted to a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR. A Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash was in its shoe stand and configured as an optical remote slave to the ring flash.
 
The perfect-condition butterfly hatched and hung motionless from its chrysalis while I went into action.
 
The lighting I used for the butterfly image series I captured on this day, and a great technique for lighting in general, was separated by layer. The ring lite was providing the main subject layer lighting and the slave 600EX-RT took care of the background light with brightness levels individually controlled from the ring lite. With a white background and a set of Rogue Flash Gels, I was able to create a large variety of background colors for the images, but this particular shot's background was simply a green notebook. A variation I incorporated into some images, to create a less-even background color, was to use a coarsely crinkled sheet of aluminum foil as a reflector beside the printer paper.
 
After nearly two hours of posing, the butterfly became active and was released outdoors. After the forth butterfly hatched in as many days, I had enough willpower to just observe the process without a camera.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/200s  ISO 100
Luna Moth on Flower Luna Moth on Flower
A Luna Moth competes with a climatis flower for your attention - both being extraordinarily beautiful subjects.
 
When shooting a closeup of a moth, butterfly or other similarly-shaped subject, select a shooting position directly perpendicular to the wings to keep the entire surface within the shallow depth of field this shooting distance provides - even at f/11.
 
105mm  f/11.0  1/125s  ISO 100
Monarch Butterfly 4 Monarch Butterfly 4
A picture full of color. The background color is courtesy of out of focus flowers.
 
300mm  f/5.0  1/160s  ISO 200
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Black Swallowtail Butterfly

 
300mm  f/4.0  1/350s  ISO 100
Caterpillar Picture Caterpillar Picture
An amazingly detailed caterpillar scans its surroundings. One of great aspects of macro photography is that you get to study creatures such as this. What you can see in the full-size picture is that each hair has little hairs of its own. Lighting is from a Chimera XXS Softbox.
 
180mm  f/13.0  1/250s  ISO 250
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Picture Black Swallowtail Butterfly Picture

 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Dragonfly Picture Dragonfly Picture

 
300mm  f/4.0  1/180s  ISO 100
Large Wolf Spider Large Wolf Spider
I know – sorry about the creepy subject. Sometimes these situations just fall into my lap. My wife, using her unmistakable slightly panicked voice, called me to our finished basement to eradicate this little monster. Upon arrival on the scene, I decided that the 3.25" (82.5mm) Wolf Spider would make a great subject.
 
As I said in the review, the Sigma 18-35 has been a great lens to have available for around-the-house use. I grabbed it, a Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight, a Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3 RT and a small softbox and returned to the scene of the home invasion. As I gathered the gear, my stress level was being increased as my wife learned that I had left the hairy creature alive and unattended.
 
Fortunately, the spider remained findable. Since the carpet was not the background I wanted, I slid a piece of printer paper under it. That was of course much easier to say than to do. I grabbed and arranged two white (to not introduce a reflected color) plastic storage containers to hold the downward-directed softbox above the spider.
 
The above picture was captured at the 18-35's minimum focus distance. I released the spider outside as the carpet would have needed cleaning if I had squished it as requested. My wife swears that the same spider was back on the window, though outside this time.
 
Note that the EOS 60D has an integrated Speedlite transmitter and could possibly have fire the remote flash without the ST-E3-RT attached. But, the softbox can get in the way of the transmitter's light, preventing the remote flash from functioning. Radio-fired wireless flash is awesome.
 
35mm  f/8.0  1/160s  ISO 100
Bee on Pink Cosmo Flower Bee on Pink Cosmo Flower
A bee works a pink Cosmo flower in the early morning sun. Unfortunately, tilt-shift lens settings are not stored in the EXIF information for digital pictures. My recollection is that I used some forward tilt to keep the entire flower sharp and some shift to allow my position to be such that a shadow was not cast on the flower.
 
24mm  f/8.0  1/100s  ISO 100
Monarch Butterfly on Zinnia Picture Monarch Butterfly on Zinnia Picture
Green grass provides the background for a beautiful Monarch Butterfly feeding on a Zinnia flower.
 
300mm  f/5.0  1/125s  ISO 200
Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly Picture Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly Picture
This Great Spangled Fritillary Butterfly had the patience and tolerance I needed to capture the shot. Extension tubes (12mm + 25mm) and a 1.4x extender were used to get the desired magnification and defocused background.
 
420mm  f/7.1  1/160s  ISO 160
Honey Bee on Sunflower Honey Bee on Sunflower
With a wide angle lens, get close to your subject. With the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4 L USM Fisheye Lens, get REALLY close to your subject. Well, you might want to be careful when honey bees are your subject, but this one did not mind my presence.
 
This particular composition reasonably-well hides the fact that this is a full frame fisheye image.
 
15mm  f/16.0  1/60s  ISO 100
Monarch Butterfly Monarch Butterfly
This Monarch butterfly is drying out from the early morning dew.
 
30mm  f/1.4  1/2500s  ISO 100
Praying Mantis 2 Praying Mantis 2
A Praying Mantis walks down a Thistle plant.
 
180mm  f/5.6  1/160s  ISO 100
Butterfly Wing Closeup Picture Butterfly Wing Closeup Picture

 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly 3 Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly 3

 
300mm  f/8  1/200s  ISO 100
Snowberry Clearwing Moth Picture Snowberry Clearwing Moth Picture

 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Luna Moth on Green Luna Moth on Green
The green leaves complement both the color and the shape of this luna moth.
 
The secret for the ultimate butterfly and moth pictures is to raise your own subjects. When they emerge from the chrysalis/cacoon, their wing are perfect (no tatters) and they are happy to rest for long periods of time. I am blessed with a daughter who has a passion for raising my subjects. This shot was taken in my studio using a large planter and studio lighting.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
Spider Web Picture Spider Web Picture

 
200mm  f/2.8  1/125s  ISO 100
Perfect Imperial Moth Perfect Imperial Moth
Finding wild butterflies and moths without tattered wings is a big challenge. The best answer to this challenge is to raise your own subjects. Or better yet, get one of the kids to do it for you.
 
This moth was photographed in-studio and released to the wild soon after it was able to fly. No editing was needed for those delicate wings.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
Bug Picture Bug Picture
A Black-Eyed Susan forms a beatifull background for this bug picture.
 
100mm  f/5.6  1/180s  ISO 100
Imperial Moth Imperial Moth
Raised from a caterpillar, this large Imperial Moth has just emerged from its cacoon - and is quite happy to pose for its in-studio portrait.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar Picture Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar Picture
This Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly Caterpillar is preparing to make its cocoon.
 
100mm  f/16  1/200s  ISO 100
Flying Monarch Butterfly Picture Flying Monarch Butterfly Picture
A Monarch Butterfly decides to live up to the last part of its name and "fly" away leaving a trail of colorful orange blur. Extension tubes (12mm + 25mm) and a 1.4x extender were used to get the desired magnification and defocused background.
 
420mm  f/8  1/80s  ISO 160
Spider 2 Spider 2
A single remote flash placed close to the spider creates dramatic lighting in this picture.
 
65mm  f/16  1/250s  ISO 100
Monarch Butterfly on Red Zinnia Monarch Butterfly on Red Zinnia
A Monarch Butterfly is captured on a red Zinnia flower in the studio. You will notice that the dimensions of this photo are larger than the camera sensor delivers. When one or more borders of any image are a solid color (especially pure white or black), the image canvas size can easily be adjusted in post processing. Concentrate one filling the frame with the subject matter (to gain the most resolution possible) and adjust the dimensions later.
 
180mm  f/11.0  1/200s  ISO 100
Bee on Thistle Flower Picture Bee on Thistle Flower Picture
A bee performs its polination job while gathering its food from a thistle flower. The thorny thistle provides a beautiful flower - one that invites photography and bees. ISO 200 (instead of 100) was selected for this shot because faster shutter speed was needed to stop the wind-blown plant's motion. Unfortunately, I didn't have my Wimberley Plamps with me. A tripod was used for this capture.
 
150mm  f/8.0  1/100s  ISO 200
Wolf Spider Carrying Babies Wolf Spider Carrying Babies
People seem to enjoy being creeped out around this time of the year (Halloween) and spiders are a perennial favorite source of creepiness. They happen to be my wife's biggest fear at any time of the year, so when I brought a mother wolf spider carrying a big "cluster" of babies into the house for a photo op (it was dark outside), she was not too happy. And when the spider jumped off of my white paper background and lost her cluster, I went back outside (after corralling what seemed like hundreds of tiny baby spiders).
 
I wasn't looking to create an award-winning photo of this spider, but wanted decent quality without much time investment. I mounted a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens to a Canon EOS 5Ds R and attached a Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash. The scene was dark (even inside) and the lens shaded the subject at this distance, so I utilized the MR-14EX's focus assist lights to manually focus on the mother's eyes (all 8 of them) with the plane of sharp focus angled to include many of the babies.
 
As mentioned, I went high-tech with the background: a sheet of white printer paper goes with everything. With the main subject being medium-dark colored, I was able to boost the highlights slightly in post, creating a pure white background, without negatively impacting the mid and dark tones.
 
Spiders are a popular fall theme and that is probably the only time of the year when you can post a spider picture that gets socially shared. Find out who has arachnophobia. Dig out one of your spider pics or better yet, go create a new one. Share it and peg the creep-out meter.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/125s  ISO 100
Flying Black Swallowtail Butterfly Picture Flying Black Swallowtail Butterfly Picture
A Black Swallowtail Butterfly takes flight off of a Pink Zinnia flower.
 
200mm  f/2.8  1/1600s  ISO 100
Promethea Moth Promethea Moth
To get this shot, I hauled a large tree stump into my studio. With the ability to use my full studio lighting and with a natural surface for the moth, I had an easy combination for good photos.
 
The shallow depth of field at such a close focusing distance means that moth and butterfly photos often work best with the wings aligning with the camera's sensor plane.
 
100mm  f/11.0  1/160s  ISO 100
IO Moth IO Moth
This is a newly-hatched IO Moth resting on a cedar tree trunk.
 
When photographing butterflies and moths at close distances, it is diffucult to keep their entire wing surfaces sharp. A narrow aperture and careful parallel sensor and wing alignment is key to this. Because this moth is somewhat rounded, I was still not able to keep the wing tips sharp at this focus distance even with an f/10.0 aperture.
 
Lighting is from direct late-day sunlight.
 
100mm  f/10.0  1/80s  ISO 100
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