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How to Shoot Gorgeous Studio-Quality Macro Insect Photographs Without the Studio

Have you ever wanted to try your hand at dramatic macro shots of insects, but don’t have a studio setup or - let’s face it - the desire to cart strange insects back from your outdoor excursions? Entomologist Phil Torres has a neat solution. In this video, he takes us through his simple and elegant setup for shooting studio-quality macro photographs in the field. Torres, who also works as a TV Host and photographer, demonstrates that with the right gear and a simple backdrop, it’s possible to shoot incredible macro images.

Shooting with a Canon 1DX Mark II, Torres switches between a 100mm 2.8 lens and the powerhouse MP-E 65mm macro lens. He also packs a couple portable speedlites - one with a diffuser and another with twin flashes. The most crucial and also least pricey element of his setup is a small sheet of white acrylic which fits easily into a backpack. For this video, he uses a piece of white foamcore without too many issues, though it is more susceptible to bending and creasing. Whether you’re shooting in exotic locations like an Ecuadorian rainforest or simply going for an afternoon hike, it'll come in handy to bring this simple setup!

[via Shutterbug]

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Josh Bryant's picture

Fantastic video! I had the idea to try something very similar with this Western Chorus Frog that I caught while mowing the lawn the other day. I grabbed a sheet of paper off my printer. Something like the acrylic mentioned here would have worked a lot better as this little guy dirtied up the paper pretty quickly. Unfortunately he also picked up some lint when he escaped me so he's a bit dirty. :( I'll definitely try some things learned in this video next time!

Hans Klett's picture

I shot this bee right outside my front door. I saw him sitting on a leaf and he didn't move when I walked by so I grabbed my camera, threw on a cheap little 40mm macro lens and set up my flash to be off camera using commander mode. I would love to have a studio but for now I'll have to settle for the outside.

Jeff Colburn's picture

Good video. While I do splurge on a few pieces of equipment (my Foldio arrives next month) I come from the DIY era when photographs had to build a lot of the equipment they used. Your simple and low tech solutions are great, and product great results. Thanks for showing it to us.

Have Fun,

Debbie Deboo's picture

I think it's unethical to photograph insects in a studio or in the manner shown in the video. We shouldn't manipulate, kill or harm small creatures just for photographs. I take very good macro shots without having to resort to interfering with the insect in any way. It's a cheat, it's not a challenge and it is unethical. I have a studio but will reserve it for humans who choose to be photographed there.