As part of our ongoing series to help you get more creative with your digital camera, each month we publish some fun, seasonal, creative photo ideas to help inspire your imagination. Along with some amazing images, we’ve also provided some quick photography tips by both amateur and professional photographers who are experts in these fields.
We’re kicking off July with a new list of exciting projects like shooting a music festival, travel portraits, bike meets, summer insects, asymmetrical portraits and many more.
Creative photo ideas for July: 01 Shoot summer insects
Summer is the perfect time to capture the glory of dragonflies, one of the most photogenic subjects for the serious macro photographer.
Their elegant, translucent bodies make great subjects, particularly when placed against a pleasing, uncluttered background.
Since so much of the viewer’s attention is focused on a relatively small object, good camera technique is crucial; as with all types of wildlife photography, you will get the best images if you study their behaviour.
“Dragonflies are highly territorial insects,” explains macro specialist Ross Hoddinott. “They will often return to the same place of rest time and again – maybe to some reeds or a branch overhanging water.
“So you need to observe their behaviour and then wait close to a preferred perch with your camera at the ready.”
While plenty of dragonflies can be seen throughout the day, you can expect to get the best results early in the morning.
“It’s well worth getting up early, as dragonflies and damselflies are less active in the morning,” Ross explains.
“After cool, clear nights, their wings may be smothered in dew, which will glisten in the low sunlight. Tiny water droplets will add scale and interest to your close-ups.”
Once you’re in the right place at the right time, think carefully about composition. “As with any close-up subject, depth of field will be wafer-thin,” says Ross.
“To help maximise the zone of focus, try to keep the camera parallel to your subject.” For more tips, see Ross’s new book Digital Macro & Close-up Photography.
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* A macro lens is best, but a less expensive alternative is to use an extension tube attached to your kit zoom. (SEE ALSO What is a macro lens – magnification, minimum focus distance explained)
* Explore different camera angles. A side angle will highlight a dragonfly’s profile, while an overhead view will show its wings and shape.
* Ross recommends using manual focus, carefully focusing on the insect’s head. You can also use continuous AF and even burst mode, but try and set your camera to quiet mode if available.
* Set a relatively wide aperture to focus on the insect while blurring out the background, and avoid background distractions at all costs. Don’t let messy foliage clutter up the foreground either.
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