How to photograph ladybirds

Wildlife photographer Matt Cole shares his expert tips. 

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Arguably our prettiest insect, ladybirds are great subjects for photographers of all abilities, particularly those looking to hone their macro skills.

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These vibrant little beetles are much less skittish than other insects and will often allow you to approach to within a few centimetres, giving you time to play with composition.

Many species can be found with relative ease in suburban gardens (I’ve photographed eight in mine) and are active all summer. Best of all, you can achieve striking results with modest compact cameras as well as powerful macro lenses. 

1 Time it right Like all insects, ladybirds are most co-operative when cool. Aim to shoot them early in the morning or late in the evening.

2 Hide the highlights To avoid reflections on shiny wingcases, shoot in cloudy conditions or using a heavily diffused flash.

3 Try for take-off Ladybirds fly regularly when warm. Make sure you are ready to hit the shutter at the exact moment of lift-off to capture them in mid-air.

4 Create colour Seek vivid backdrops (such as blue sky, green grass or yellow flowers) to complement a ladybird’s bright hues.

5 Get it all Build your library by capturing each stage of the ladybird life-cycle (egg, larva, pupa, adult), plus mating and hunting behaviour. 

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