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Macro Photography Technique Discussions on Macro Photography

How do people get so close to insects

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  #1  
Old 13-12-05, 10:33
Vicky Vicky is offline
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Default How do people get so close to insects

I just do not seem to be able to get close to butterflies or most insects to get really good close ups. Are there any tricks of the trade? As soon as I get within 10ft they are off.
Thanks for any help
Vicky
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Old 13-12-05, 12:19
jseaman jseaman is offline
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I hope you are exaggerating about the 10 feet. There are some insects that are hard to approach but most will permit your presence. When approaching, don't allow your shadow to be cast over the insect. They tend to interpret it as a predator coming in for a kill.

I often use a 2x teleconverter with my 100mm macro lens. This allows me to work at a bit more distance from the subject. Sometimes I do this just to be able to approach the insect other times it is to keep my distance from a wasp or such.

With the macro photography, I often just sit myself down in a bunch of flowers or whatever and wait with my tripod, allowing the insects to approach me.

For non-macro photography, I use my Canon 100-400mm zoom lens. This allows some decent close-ups from 6-10 feet away.

Good luck!
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  #3  
Old 13-12-05, 15:50
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postcardcv postcardcv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jseaman
I hope you are exaggerating about the 10 feet. There are some insects that are hard to approach but most will permit your presence. When approaching, don't allow your shadow to be cast over the insect. They tend to interpret it as a predator coming in for a kill.

I often use a 2x teleconverter with my 100mm macro lens. This allows me to work at a bit more distance from the subject. Sometimes I do this just to be able to approach the insect other times it is to keep my distance from a wasp or such.
The comment about not casting a shadow over the insect is really good advice. It almost always scares the insect off, and if it doesn't it's likely to mess up the light for your shot anyway!

I'm interested to hear that you use a 2x tc with your macro lens as I'd been wondering about trying this (though I don't have the tc yet). I use eth Sigma 105 f2.8 so assume I'd still retain auto focus with a 2x, do you know if this is the case?
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Old 13-12-05, 19:51
Forest Knights Forest Knights is offline
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I think the replies so far are spot on. approaching any wildlife most be down carefully. many people concentrate on moving quietly and then forget to plan their route to avoid shadow sent extra. a good knowledge of where the insects are going to settle and making sure you get there first is better than chasing butterflies.
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Old 14-12-05, 00:02
jseaman jseaman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by postcardcv
I'm interested to hear that you use a 2x tc with your macro lens as I'd been wondering about trying this (though I don't have the tc yet). I use eth Sigma 105 f2.8 so assume I'd still retain auto focus with a 2x, do you know if this is the case?
Yes, my Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens + Kenko 2x teleconverter combination allows me to retain autofocus when used with my Canon 20D. The autofocus is slow and hunts a bit but it works.

What will happen with your lens on your camera body I have no idea. f/2.8 + a loss of 2 stops from using the teleconverter gives you a f/5.6 lens. Which, with many cameras, is the limit on autofocus.

But ... I never use autofocus with macro shots! Considering the razor thin depth of field that we work with at these short distances manual focus is needed to give the focus exactly where I want it. And, since I'm on a tripod anyway, it really is no problem.
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Old 14-12-05, 13:28
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Adey Baker Adey Baker is offline  
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I use the extremes of focal length for insects - a close-focussing 400mm and a 50mm macro but I employ a similar technique for approaching the subject with each lens.

Generally, I decide where I want to shoot from and get down to that level (it's usually about getting down low!) before making a final approach to the subject, checking lighting/shadows, backgrounds, etc., as I get closer so that there's a minimum amount of movement when I get into the final position.

Also, check all your camera settings are as you want them rather than have your fingers fiddling about just inches from the subject!
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Old 22-12-05, 22:18
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I have numerous butterfly pics like the one attached, move slowly avoid casting shadows.

Mind you it can be quite difficult holding an DSLR complete with battery grip and flashgon in one hand, with the flutterbye on the other.
300D + Canon 100mm macro and Sigma flash.


Harry
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File Type: jpg common white.jpg (150.7 KB, 140 views)
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Old 22-12-05, 22:36
robski robski is offline
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Not choosing the hottest part of the day can help (e.g midday). Insects tend to be more docile when it is cooler in the early morning or late afternoon.

Rob
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Old 25-12-05, 22:22
erniehatt erniehatt is offline  
 
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I use a Sony f717, for which I recently bought a 2.2X tele conv. I did not like the minimum focus distance of 5 meters. I experimented with it using supplementary close up lenses, and was pleasantly surprised at the result, using different combinations I managed the following reductions. 2.6, 1.66, .9, .7, .5, and .3, and the quality was excellent. This may be of interest to those none interchangable lens camera owners, that have filter threads. Ernie
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Old 26-12-05, 00:50
windyridge50 windyridge50 is offline  
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The most important thing is to observe your prey. With dragon flies there are two broad families, hawkers and darters. darters are creatures of habit, they patrol their territory but stop regulalry for periods of several minutes at one or two regular stopping points and can easily be approached to within a few inches without problems. Hawkers tend to fly all day, catching their food on the wing but rest overnight and can not fly in the morning until the dew on their wings has dried so you need to be up at the crack of dawn or try to capture them in flight (flash is useful here). Butterflies are similar to darters and will often rest to collect nectar for long periods just moving in a small area, as long as you don't cast a shadow you'll be OK. I always use a tripod as to get a dragonfly or butterfly pin sharp all over will require an aperture of at least f16, f32 for small butterflies such as the skippers or small blue where you will be working at an image magnification of 1. for these smaller insect a macro lens in the 180mm-200mm is ideal as you will still be working at around 12". For small dragon flies and damselflies such as the sympetrum and coenagrionidae which are around 2" long you will need to work at a magnification of around 0.5 with an APS-C sensor. but at the end of the day you need patience, I one stalked a green hairstreak for over 5 hours and still didn't get a shot. I will post some shots later.
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