How to take effective photos for insect identification

It is often very difficult to identify insects from photographs. People who want an identification can make the process easier (or possible) by following a few simple rules.  

1. Get as close as possible to the insect (fill the frame). Many cameras have a "macro" mode, often indicated by a "tulip icon" on the scene selection dial. The macro mode tells the camera to let you focus much closer to the subject than, say, a landscape image or a portrait. 

2. Hold still and focus carefully. Blurry photos most often result from movement of the camera and/or poor focus. To avoid camera shake, rest your elbows or hands on a solid surface rather than trying to hold the camera unsupported. 

3. Shoot some of the photos with the flash turned on. In low light situations the camera will use a very slow shutter speed unless the flash is turned on. Slow shutter speeds usually result camera shake and blurry images.

4. Use a flash when the color of the insect is not much different than the color of the background of the photo.  

5. Do not shoot the photo through glass or plastic. These usually make it impossible to see the fine details of an insect. 

6. Take photos from the top, side and bottom if possible. Often times the features needed for identification are not visible on the top of the insect.  

The following are real images submitted for identification and I am posting them as examples of things that should be corrected if a successful insect identification is to be made from a photo. 

Fill the frame with the insect.

Fill the frame with the insect.

Do not shoot through glass.

Do not shoot through glass.

FOCUS, and use a flash when the insect is close in color to the background.

FOCUS, and use a flash when the insect is close in color to the background.