Macro Photography of Insects

When’s the last time you gaped in awe at the beauty of a common housefly? We're guessing the answer to that would be ‘never’. Yet photographer Ondrej Pakan manages to make us do just that with his macro shots of insects covered in dew – enhancing the allure of some of the insects, or making those we might consider ugly suddenly dazzling to the eye. It's like beauty and the beast all rolled into one.

The little fly here certainly has its bling on. We're not sure if we could call it lovely, exactly – it still has those rather nasty looking hairs – but it certainly is captivating. We wonder how it sees with all those water drops on its compound eyes? With light refracting through the droplets, we’re imagining a kaleidoscope of color.

It isn't often you get the opportunity to gaze into the big blue eyes of a damselfly, especially one that seems to be staring right back at you. The magnifying quality of the dewdrops on this insect’s eyes is quite amazing as well, offering us a good look at the myriad ommatidia, or ‘units’, that make up its large compound eyes. Fascinating!

Here's another bug that looks like it's gone a little crazy with the Bedazzler. Love the orange and gold color scheme too. What a stunner! No wonder it's strutting down that blade of grass like it's a miniature catwalk.

This fly gives a whole new meaning to the expression ‘dewy-eyed’. Once again, the droplets introduce some extra macro into our already close-up photograph by magnifying the complex fly eye structure. Unfortunately for them, flies don't have eyelids and so have to wipe their eyes with their feet – which could be why this little critter is choosing to let the drops on its eyes stay put: drying its eyes can wait; for the moment it’s just enjoying its moment in the spotlight!

This caddisfly would make an elegant art deco brooch with its scattering of gem-like dewdrops and exquisite wing pattern. The caddisfly is not really a fly but rather a close relative of moths and butterflies, as you might guess by looking at it. Even when they're not wearing water, like here, caddisflies like to live around it, and a large group of them near a pond or stream is usually taken to mean that the water is clean – which is always handy to know.

It's certainly not only the ladies who look good in sparklies, as this glittery fellow demonstrates. How do we know he's a boy and not a girl mosquito? The lack of an obvious, elongated proboscis (the part females use to suck our blood) and the feathery antenna give him away. Who knew a wet male mosquito could look so gorgeous

As you can imagine, it's quite a feat to capture such tiny insects covered in water droplets on film. Expert photographer Ondrej Pakan achieves his bejeweled bug pictures by taking them immediately after downpours. He may have gotten a little wet sometimes, but with astonishing photos like these, we think it was worth it.

The awesome detail that can be captured by macro photography makes us notice things that we almost certainly never would otherwise – the interesting two-toned eyes of this fly, for example. Pakan himself says: "It’s always a big surprise for me to find out how many species, forms and colors exist in this kingdom." We couldn’t agree more.

One of the tricks of macro photography is getting the depth of field just right – literally millimeter perfect – so that the subject is properly in focus. In this photo, Pakan has used a shallow depth of field, focusing sharply on that little grey fly with the cute black spots on its back. And of course, the stunning, almost perfectly spherical dewdrops.

In contrast with most of the other photographs collected here, it's the dewdrops that are dwarfing the insect in this shot. The wonderful rounded shape of water droplets on leaves (or anywhere else) is due to the liquid's surface tension, which pulls it into a spherical shape. But never mind the science; we just think it looks pretty!