Lotsa Little Part 2 – Macro Photography


Macro Therapy

Last post I explained this title.

So many insect varieties are worth having around, yet when we think of insects we want in the garden, butterflies are usually at the top of the list. In reality, butterflies make up one of the smallest percentages of all insects visiting our gardens on any given day.

Epargyreus_clarus_Silver Spotted_Skipper

Epargyreus clarus, Silver Spotted Skipper in my garden on the Salvia.

The butterflies love to forage on field plants, not to mention the caterpillars need many of the meadow plants on which to feed. So it makes sense that unless you have what they find in the fields in your garden, the majority of them will be dining elsewhere.

Butterflies here come in spurts. This year has been a particularly bad year for seeing them too. Only recently did they start to come in any number. Butterfly Weed and Butterfly Bush are just starting to flower, but they have been dining on other plants in the meantime. But…


In our home gardens, we still get an interesting assortment of insects through the seasons, many residents of our created habitats.


The garden attracts a wide variety of mysterious flappers, fliers, hoppers and crawlers that pollinate our blooms, gather up nectar or eat bugs we wish did not visit. Insects heighten the garden experience with their lively colors, curious sounds and baffling behaviors.


I guess if we look beyond the bees and butterflies as fun insects to photograph, there is almost a million others that inhabit this earth. The butterflies are always a favorite, but for some reason, they look prettier on the field flowers. I think because the field flowers don’t compete with their own vibrancy of color.


Even the duller, more ordinary insects take on a new beauty when they are seen close.


A limited number of critters visit any one ecosystem or habitat, yet the variety in either is still overwhelming. Some are large and others teeny tiny.

12-Spotted_Skimmer_(Libellula pulchella)

Some are territorial, some are solitary. Others hang out in groups. Often the plants in the garden are what brings them, but some follow those that forage the plants. Dinner awaits in the food chain.


Even the beneficial insects eat other beneficial insects like above.  Looks like a hover fly became dinner. This is a tiny spider too.


Beneficial insects come by what we plant or by field plants we let go to flower.


Here is a list from Farmer Fred  and one from Cornell on companion planting, but many plants that attract the beneficial insects are not on either list. The list of plants is as long as the list of insects that visit.


Bees come in all sizes and this may be an Andrenid. I learned this bee last post.


This aster flower in this post is only one inch in diameter, so the Sphaerophoria above (if that what it is) is very small.

BeeFeedingThe photographs of the Painted Lady, Monarch, and dragonfly were shot with a 300mm zoom as were the field flowers. All the rest were in my garden and shot with the 105mm.

SkipperStoke’s Aster and Skipper. Skippers are all over the garden now.


Many flowers in my garden attract insects and the sleeping Stoke’s Aster above might even have a resting bug inside.


The tiny ants work the Trumpet Vine hoping to get them open for sweet nectar.


Again, this set of photos was shot handheld with the Micro 105mm lens. I used flash on some of these shots to balance out the bright ambient light and throw more light onto the tiny insects. But this lens is not one for easily capturing butterflies or other highly skittish critters. This lens is wonderful for subjects that remain in your frame, rather than chasing it around.


Since I talk a lot about making photos and how I go about it, I just want to make a few points about the weather lately. I was out in the garden yesterday with the camera and the humidity was so encompassing, the lens would not acclimate to the conditions. It kept fogging up with the oppressing humidity. These are not good conditions for photographing for the photographer or the camera. I never was anywhere with my camera, even the butterfly conservatory, where the lens would not clear eventually.


And while we are on the subject of photographing, here is a post that has a lot to say about our choice of photo subjects and those we shoot that are “boring”.  I thought I would agree with most of Rob Sheppard’s points, but have to say, while he said some things that needed to be said, I am not sure his images necessarily supported the points he was making. I love his work too and have a couple of his eBooks.

By what he said, all I could think was how I note that I use a Nikon and the way I compose an image. Honestly, I am not going to change what I do, but then again, not being a professional, I don’t have to. Living at Niagara Falls, I tend to take a lot of tourist shots. There is no question where I am when shooting and I don’t want people to have to guess.


“Out of the 800,000 – 1,000,000 species of insects that have been described so far, not more than 1,000 (about 1/10 of 1%) can be regarded as serious pests, and less than 10,000 (about 1%) are even occasional or sporadic pests.”– Source: NCSU Extension


I am so happy with my little fly photos, I decided to take more. That led to the question, “What are flies good for?” I never realized how many types of flies are out there until I started really looking. I never thought much about their ecological value either.  So of course, a post was born…. see flies like you have not seen them here before making their ‘modeling’ debut.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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28 Responses to Lotsa Little Part 2 – Macro Photography

  1. HI Donna! I’m 12 years old, and I love your blog. You have amazing photos! I’ve just started a blog, do check it out if you have the time. Thanks for being a great inspiration!

  2. Yay! Your posts make me happy

  3. Jennifer says:

    Simply beautiful work Donna.

  4. Pat says:

    Great shots of the tiny denizens of the garden!

  5. These were an amazing couple of posts. It’s incredible that you were able to capture pictures of such small, flitting insects so well, but even more impressive that you were able to identify so many of them. Hats off to you for truly awesome couple of posts, informative and fascinating.

  6. I’ve said that before but, what an eye, Donna! Of course I am absolutely convinced that they pose for you!

  7. MJ - Oakmoss says:

    Thanks for those statistics on the miniscule number of truly pesty insects. Humans have a tendency to think most are problematic which leads to the indiscriminate eradication of far too many insects upon which all life on the planet depends.

  8. You are an inspiration! beautiful photography….and an awakening to the world around us.
    I should have asked sooner because I have reblogged several of your posts already….I’m new to the blogging world and trying to learn the ropes….is it ok to reblog your beautiful posts?

  9. I really love that picture of the bee and the wild bergamot. And that spider picture is a bit chilling!

  10. Donna, these photos are absolutely breathtaking! I’m sharing the link with my photography e-course group so my fellow students can take a look. You have mastered macro, that’s for sure!

  11. Always love your insect shots. My favorite this time is the tiny aster with the matching designer insect with the unspellable name.

  12. Phil Lanoue says:

    Wow! Those are absolutely outstanding!

  13. Brian Comeau says:

    Some amazing details here. The comments are pretty cool too. You’ve become quite the inspiration for a lot of people.

  14. lucindalines says:

    Such interesting information, and those photos are just the best.

  15. Pingback: Fly-day | standingoutinmyfield

  16. Fabulous captures! and with your 105mm lens…this is what I aspire too! I haven’t used it much on insects except the ones that stay still for long periods of time. I haven’t found it to work well on the butterflies that move around a lot but that is probably the limitation of the photographer and not the camera. We have lots of flies in our garden. Over the past year I have been identifying them. I think most people think of only the black house fly. There are some plants that are only pollinated by flies in my garden. Looking forward to more photos of the flies!

  17. Graziella says:

    These pictures show us a completely different world, the world of insects. The close ups made me realize that the insects see the world in a completely new perspective, and your pictures help to show us that!

  18. janechese says:

    Great lighting and depth of field in all of these.Enjoyed looking at them.

  19. Donna, the amount of time you put into each and every post is incredible. Not only are your photos beyond magnificent, your narrative is so detailed. You take things to another level, you really do. Lovely work all the way around. Margie

  20. A.M.B. says:

    Great photos! My girls love them, too. They’re going through an insect phase (though they’re still a little afraid of bees), and so they were very excited to get such a close-up view of some of their favorite bugs. Thanks!

  21. Donna, where are you? 🙂

  22. Fergiemoto says:

    Wonderful posting! Your macro shots are amazing!
    I can’t believe how you are able to get those critters to pose for you. 🙂

  23. Isn’t it amazing all the benefits of these little critters…even my point and shoot was fogging up…so humid but it looks like we might have a good break.

  24. You are a master matching photos and text that could easily be a post on their own. Your macro images are perfect!

  25. Denise says:

    The are wonderful photographs. I am in awe.

  26. Pingback: Incredible bug photos: Portraits of insects up close | Mannaismayaadventure's Blog

  27. Extraordinary photos Donna.

  28. sharonftaylor says:

    God must feel like he has a real pal in you! To take the tiniest and lowliest of his creatures and highlight them as if they were an eagle!

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