Here's a simple image of a bug on a branch:

A wheel bug, Arilus cristatus, against a late autumn sky.

Appearances aside, producing this image was technically more challenging than my usual fare. Both the sky and the insect are properly exposed, meaning I essentially had to plan and meter for two photographs in one exposure.

Consider the scene with only natural sunlight and the camera metered for the sky:

With only ambient light, the bug is a silhouette.

To correct for the dark, underexposed bug I added foreground light in the form of a diffused radio-triggered flash. Thus, the full process behind the top photo was as follows:

  1. Set bug on a stick with an off-camera strobe positioned nearby (just off-frame to the top-left).
  2. Arrange orientation so that sunlight backlights the bug, highlighting its outline.
  3. Set aperture for desired depth-of-field (f/16).
  4. Metering on sky, adjust ISO (200) and shutter speed (1/200 sec) to expose backdrop for the desired shade of blue.
  5. Manually adjust fill flash until the bug is properly exposed (Canon 55o EX strobe at 1/32 power).

Although these mixed ambient/strobe shots take additional preparation, they result in photographs that show both the insect and its environment.