Head-on Shots

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017


Headon macro shots make for dramatic, direct macro shots, and has often been employed by many of the best extreme macro shooters.

Beetle headon - weevil

A little weevil shot headon. And whilst perfectly horizontal works, I personally think that the tilt on the body also gives it a bonus bit of personality! It takes a lot of patience to get this sort of beetle perfectly headon, as beetles don't tend to sit about waiting to be photographed.

But the headon shot isn't the easiest, and the pursuit of a great headon shot maybe something that's best left until there's been plenty of success with angled views.

Head or Body?

A choice that you'll have to make is how much of the body to include in the headon shot.

This is actually quite a tricky choice with insects because they often tend to have small appendages sticking out such as legs or antennae.

Head-on shots are about impact, the wow of the smallest creatures

Given the very limited depth of field that you can achieve with extreme macro, this can present a significant problem as those extremities may not be in focus.

Even using stacking this remains a problem, because if your optics are not telecentric then there can be exaggerated distortion.

Cricket headon

A lovely speckled bush cricket shot at night using a torch aid. This common visitor to my hedges late at night looks like it's looking straight at you, but in fact that's just an illusion because of the tubes in their eyes with the black when you look through to the end.


If you do go for the headon shot then you absolutely must make sure that your focus is good.

If the eye detail is not in sharp focus then your impact will probably be lost and the image worthy of the infamous reject pile.


One gotcha to watch out for is diffusion. In the head-on shot your diffusion my edge over the subject which can be tricky if you have branches or leaves in the way.

Although it doesn't always make for the nicest image, this would be one reason that I might opt to use a ringflash rather than a diffuser with flash setup.