Best time to shoot insects?

Started Jun 8, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP DannH Contributing Member • Posts: 517
Re: Best time to shoot insects?

Steve Balcombe wrote:

On hot summer days, late afternoon can be a good time. As the air gets cooler the flying insects are still active so you can find them, but they settle more often and for longer. And crawling insects seek out sunny spots for warmth so they are out in the open.

Late afternoon sun is good for photography too. It's much less harsh than the middle of the day, but still bright enough for natural light macros.

Here's a good example of insects seeking out the sun. This was a sunny patch of a few square metres in a wooded area. The whole patch had this density of damselflies, which numbered thousands altogether.

That's a nice find (beats my find of 1 of them so far this year) i've tried a few sunny days in the morning (about 3 hours after sunrise) but always find it gives horrible glare on the subject and you lose too much detail in the eyes. Is late afternoon light generally better than the mornings?

SteB wrote:


You did very well to get that close and you obviously have very good field skills. As you say if you show a none threatening posture, you can get close. The key is being aware of your subject, and seeing how it reacts. I use this a lot when approaching butterflies. For instance I have found butterflies with flick their wings open, even the ones without eyespots. In Butterfly speak, this says I've seen you, don't bother coming any closer or I'll fly off. This is an indication to a predator not to waste it's time.

Birds communicate in a similar way. Lots of them will do a quick dip when you are approaching them. Again it means I have seen you, and I'll fly off if you come any closer. Predators soon learn this, and they break off their stalk. It saves the energy of both prey and predator. If you learn to read these small signs you can use it to your advantage. Wait, and let whatever it is relax, before nudging forward again. Insects, with the possible exception of bees, aren't bothered about eye contact. However they do know when you are pursuing them. I have found that if you continue to follow butterflies, bees and dragonflies around in a certain area, that they will all eventually all leave the area. They seem to regard this behaviour as predatory, and do not stay in an area with an active predator.

I had an incredible experience with a Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus doe a few years back when photographing insects early in the morning. These are the shyest of deer, and true ghosts of the woods. I surprised this doe when I arrived. She watched me from cover as I notice they usually do. I think it is to see if you are pursuing them. I took a few shots with my 150mm macro lens at range. It was still not yet fully light. and then I deliberately turned away to indicate to the doe that I was not following her. We can communicate a lot to animals with bodly language if we understand their body language, and we display gestures they understand.

I never expected to see her again, and I expected her to leave. I got on with looking for insects. Incredibly she reappeared from cover and started to graze in the woodland clearing I was in. I deliberately showed disinterest in her. And she came ever more relaxed. I made no attempt to hide. Eventually she let me get closer and closer. I was then standing up photorgraphing her. Initially she was slightly disturbed by the shutter sound, and then eventually ignored it. She spent over 2 hours with me. I took hundreds of photographs of her with my macro lens, and video with my compact camera. She heard someone several hundred metres/yards away, and just disappeared into cover. They had a dog with them, and I was worried it would find her, it didn't. I thought I would not see her again. The incredibly minutes after they had gone, she reappeared at my side. This happened when 2 more people passed by. Their ears are independely directional. At first she always kept one ear locked on me, then eventually she trusted me so much, she pointed both ears away from me.

The link to the whole set including videos below (not the best video quality as the compact I used then wasn't good wtih video, but it shows how relazed she was with me, as I was standing up in the open).

The full set, includinging videos

An interesting read there, learnt something new about butterflies, thanks. I never realized bee's reacted that way, they never sit still but from what I have seen they don't seem too bothered about the presence of humans.

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