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An Introduction to High Magnification Insect Photography

By Anthony Thurston on July 13th 2013


Have you ever wondered how photographers get those super close shots of insects? Your standard macro lens will let you get super close to the insects, but will not provide the magnification, so how do they do it? Learn that and more in today’s introduction to High Magnification Macro Photography.

First off insects, especially live ones in the wild, are not the easiest subjects. They are constantly moving, and since you will most likely be manually focusing this will be a problem at first. Just like with most things though, practice makes perfect – you will get it eventually. The video below is fairly old, but it gives a great look into how one of the best high magnification insect shooters I know of, Thomas Shahan,  does his work.

Thomas does a great job in this video, but he only briefly touches on the gear he uses and how he uses it. The cheapest and easiest method for getting the magnification is reversing your lens. It is not that too hard, but you do give up all AF and Aperture control. The video below does a good job explaining how to setup your camera/lens for the reversed lens method.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, it can take a lot of work, but the results that you can get out of this are amazing. Some of the shots that Thomas displays on his website are absolutely breathtaking. Who knew that insects were so beautiful when they aren’t creeping your wife out.

This is a neat niche of photography that you can try out without needing to hire models, or have expensive gear. Anyone can do this, and all it takes is practice and a little bit of luck to get good at it.


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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Honorio Carlos Pereira Braga

    Very good . I don’t have an interchangeable digital SLR, but a Fuji Finepix. In Brazil import taxes go over 60 % over US prices. Do you Know someone in Rio that could sell a Pentax K?

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