How to freeze bugs

Discussion in 'Nature' started by leicaglow, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. I've seen some of the strangest bugs I've ever seen in my neck of the woods. As I would notice a couple dozen species in past years, there must be a hundred or more around this year. So I want to start shooting some of them with my bellows. What's the best way to get them to hold still? Capture them and put them in the freezer? Any suggestions... assuming I want to catch and release?
  2. SCL


    Maybe CO2 cartridges. the sort used in pellet guns and fizzy water contraptions?
  3. Well, ideally you could shoot them in their natural environment. Barring that, if you are concerned about catch and release, use the fridge. The freezer will be too cold and you will find it rather easy to kill your insects. I believe that there are some anesthetic agents you could use as well, but I personally have no experience with them. You may want to contact your local entomologist (try a university or a local ag extension).
  4. I would suggest that you do NOT engage in any catch and release activities, as you should shoot your subject(s) in their natural environment, without doing any harm to whatever living thing you are trying to shoot.
    IMHO it is totally not done to catch animals, feed them, or to do anything that disturbs them in order to get the shot. How would you feel if somebody who wanted to take your picture would first capture you, stick you in the fridge, anethesize you, or subject you to whatever they deem necessary "to get the perfect shot"? Just my 2c.
  5. We are now equating people to dung beetles? A bug is a bug.
    Kent in SD
  6. Hello Kent,
    You need to broaden your education. I suggest you read this: Insects of all kinds are essential in maintaining our environment and food supply.
  7. I already have two degrees and seven years of college, including a post grad in medical science. While bugs have their role, I certainly don't raise them to the moral equivalence of fellow human beings.
    Kent in SD
  8. John & Mary,
    Thanks for pointing out the importance of the insects in general, and the dung beetle in particular.
    Nowhere have I equated bugs to people. That was your bit of generalization. I just wanted to appeal to the sense of ethics and respect for nature of my fellow wildlife photographers. This is the nature photography forum after all, isn't it?
    Anyway, on the topic of "A bug is a bug": Insects are the most diverse group of animals on the planet, with more than 1 million described species ( Although many insect species are considered pests by humans, they are an extremely valuable part of earth's ecosystem. Without the insects, all other life on the planet would become extinct. Man included. Period. So some respect for even the humblest bug would be in order.
  9. even though they are bugs, they are part of the system... and they are also living beings, moreover, if you are taking photographs of them, they are the main subject, without which you would not be able to create that specific project on hand... so as a photographer i would respect them as i respect a human in terms of while photographing them.
  10. [[IMHO it is totally not done to catch animals, feed them, or to do anything that disturbs them in order to get the shot.]]
    Bugs are brought into the studio and photographed and then released all the time without any harm being done to them. Your lack of a clue here is rather astonishing.
    Good shot of that Sumatran tiger in its natural environment of Germany though.
  11. Bugs are brought into the studio and photographed and then released all the time without any harm being done to them. Your lack of a clue here is rather astonishing.​
    I am well aware of the fact that a lot of "wildlife photography" is being done with manipulation of all sorts. That includes freezing insects, glueing frogs to rocks or tree stumps, feeding animals (with totally inappropriate food), and a lot more.
    The fact that this is being done "all the time" is a very poor justification for those actions of "wildlife photographers". To me it seems you are completely missing the point of the ethics of wildlife photograpy, and the respect all creatures, great and small, deserve.
    Good shot of that Sumatran tiger in its natural environment of Germany though.​
    Off-topic: that Sumatran tiger is certainly not in it's natural environment. The shot was taken at a zoo in Germany, instead of in the wild, in what little bits and pieces still remain of the Sumatran rain forests. But that's an entirely different story.
  12. I guess that is why I don't have too many insect macros? I refuse to catch them if they can't be photographed in the environment then they don't get photographed by me, I yet to cut a flower to take a picture of it, my opinion. But I do Raid roaches:)
  13. No matter how you approach it, in the studio or out, macro photography of insects is difficult and requires patience. My first observation is that a bellows unit is rather unwieldy to use in the field for anything that moves. I would replace it with a good macro lens on extension tubes or a quality tele-extender. Then you will need to add TTL flash to help freeze the action and account for camera shake, because you will have to hand-hold the camera.
    One technique that sometimes works to calm the insect is to place an opaque cup over it. When you remove the cover, the insect often remains motionless for a few seconds as it re-orients itself. This may give you sufficient time for your picture.
  14. I completely agree with Adrian Thyss. I shoot a lot of insects and I find the best approaches are to be patient and one thing not mentioned here yet is to use biology! If the insect is eating or mating they are going to be a lot less interested in what you are doing as the photographer. A 100mm or more macro lens is the perfect range because you don't have to be on top of your subject for the close up. If you move slowly you have less chance of spooking the subject. Also if flowers are involved, or with dragonflies/butterflies they often return to the same perch within 10 minutes, so wait them out. This time of year is amazing for insects on flowers, especially in the high country (mountains where the flowers are just coming out) I find a tripod to awkward for insect because I'm trying to get to their level and frequently changing camera position to maximize composition. I do use Nikon's macro flash system, but mostly as fill light for shadows. For examples see my site.
  15. I understand the improtance of insects in this world. They are close to the bottom of the food chain for larger insects, birds, reptiles, and humans. While they are alive they help to pollinate the plant life and eat the fruits of the plant life. Larger animals need these grains and fruit to grow and mature so they can reproduce and help control the insect world so it doesn't take over the world. Now I agree it is more gratifying to take a picture under natural conditions. Now don't get after me if you see me step on a bug or swat a fly bcause a bug is a bug and I am just a human animal.
    Tim Knight!
  16. Michael, I have kept insects in the refrigerator and not found them to be so slow moving that it would really give you an advantage in photography. They will still move and squirm around; it's just that they usually become a little less active or less likely to fly away. As soon as they start to warm up, they'll get going again, just as fast as they ever were.
    I have seen this happen with maggots and ladybugs. When I lived in Europe for a while, fishermen used maggots as bait (fishing with very small hooks); in the refrigerator, they'll last for a few days (they come in a small, flat tub with a little sawdust). The ladybugs I kept in the refrigerator before release because that was part of the procedure. I was using ladybugs for pest control. They eat aphids. You keep them in the fridge, and then release them on a freshly watered plant; they'll be thirsty, and will stay there and drink; this encourages them to call the plant area home for a while.
    Overall, based on those experiences, I think you'll get only a marginal benefit from cooling them while alive.
  17. You could just catch one in a petri dish and let him go afterwards. You could stage a little setup nearby to light the dish. Probably take only a few minutes. This would give you more of a lab photo, though.
  18. I think for lower forms of life, catch and release shouldn't cause much of a problem, as long as the creatures are handled with care. Considering the tiny brain capacity of an insect, I'd doubt they remember the experience five minutes later. Even though capturing the image in the subject's natural surrounding can create better results, sometimes it is necessary to control the settings. The image below is a toad I found in the backyard. I placed it on a white note binder and experimented with a few macro shots on my back patio. After a couple minutes, I sent it back on its way, (I assume) no worse for wear.
  19. Many flying insects will fly away briefly as you approach but some will fly right back to the same spot after a few seconds.
    butterfly 1
    A slow approach is critical.
    Butterfly 2
  20. There is no "best way" to keep them still. Use a fast shutter speed or a flash. People should NOT be attempting to freeze the insect in any fashion. Have fun with the challenge of shooting bugs instead of cheating.

Share This Page