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Beautiful insects

Philip Smith
12 July 2010
Blog team: 
Garden ponds are full of inspiration for nature photographers. International Garden Photography competition judge Heather Angel shares her ten top tips for photographing insects in the garden.

In our small garden pond we have five different species of damsel and dragonfly this year. One morning last week we spotted a southern hawker larva that had crawled up a stem and was just beginning to emerge as an adult insect. We sat and watched – fascinated - for a couple of hours with camera in place. What a photo-opportunity!

Adult dragonfly drying its wings having emerged from the larval case by Heather Angel.

Our summer 4Seasons competition ‘Insect Beauties’ is in full swing at the moment. International Garden Photography competition judge Heather Angel, is well known for her fantastic images of wildlife from all over the world. Here are Heather’s ten top tips for photographing insects in the garden:

  • Insects are more in evidence on fine warm days.
  • Bees are easy to see and photograph in larger single flowers such as poppies, roses, mallows and hollyhocks.
  • Butterflies seek nectar, favouring simple cottage garden flowers such as lavender, teasel, scabious, the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) and asters.
  • A pond in mid-summer is a rewarding place for damselflies and dragonflies.
  • Use the macro option on a zoom telephoto lens or, better still, a close focusing macro lens.
  • Avoid casting a shadow on the subject.
  • Don't make hurried movements when approaching insects.
  • Try to keep the background simple and uncluttered.
  • Use Shutter Priority mode (S on dial) for capturing active insects and in poor light increase the ISO to gain a faster shutter speed.
  • Use Aperture Priority mode (AV or A on dial) so the depth of field can be speedily changed (smaller lens apertures give greater depth of field).

Heather Angel is now working on an exciting book project for Kew on how floral structure relates to pollination of flowers – from all over the world.

- Philip Smith -


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