Panasonic LUMIX GX8 + Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 Macro, ISO 200, 1/60 s, f/16, flash, and diffusor

This week’s picture is of a hornet on a window. Hornets are the largest wasps that live in big social hives. They can reach sizes of up to 5.5 cm and their stings are more dangerous than those of bees. Luckily, the European hornet is not particularly aggressive towards humans, such that it was possible to get as close as 5 cm to it. Also, this specimen was tired after flying around my flat for an hour or so.

basic macro photography setup

When photographing living insects, lighting is key. To increase the depth of field, a large f-stop has to be used (here I used f16). Therefore, light is very sparse. At the same time, the insect is constantly moving and makes slow shutter speeds impractical. Using a flash introduces enough light in a short burst to freeze any motion, but since the insect is very close in front of the lens, the shadow of the lens blocks the flash. So without the diffusor, no extra light would reach the insect. Another issue arises due to the reflective surface of many insects. Bringing a light source close causes very quickly specular highlights, i.e. direct and most often overexposed reflections of the light source. The ultimate tool should be a ring flash, but I don’t own one yet. Let’s see what the next bug season will bring.