Whether you're shooting macro shots of insects, spring flowers or the life cycle of the live oak tree, shooting nature outdoors comes with a wide range of challenges. Lighting is inconsistent, weather conditions can change suddenly, people and other animals are unpredictable, and - well, let's face it; Murphy's Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will.”) can play a big part in outdoor photography.
Now, I'm not about to tell you that a photographer shouldn't be ready and willing to face those challenges. In fact, some of my favorite shots have been taken in inclement weather or other less-than-perfect conditions. There are times, though, when bringing a little bit of the outdoors into the studio is the best way to get the shot. Fine art photographers have been doing just that with flowers, bugs and other natural subjects since photography was new.
One example that comes quickly to mind is a situation where you need to isolate a subject against a clean background. You basically have three choices: 1) Shoot in a natural setting and spend a lot of time in post-processing. 2) Take something outside to serve as a background and deal with the lighting until you get the right effect. 3) Bring the subject into the studio and have full control over the lighting and background.
When you choose option number 3, please remember to respect the environment. Don't cut rare flowers. Don't remove an animal (Insects and arachnids are animals, too.) from its environment without returning it safely. Don't trample your neighbor's petunias. (That last one is for your own protection.) Use a little common sense and show some respect for the planet.
One of the great things about shooting nature this way is that most of your projects won't require a lot of space or an expensive studio setup. You can do a lot on your kitchen table, especially with a small tabletop studio kit. I like the MS20 Tabletop Photo Studio Kit from ProCyc MyStudio®, because it's compact, simple and versatile and provides a full cyclorama background. My dining table is next to a big, south-facing window, so when the sun is in the right place, I can diffuse the light with sheer curtains and use the reflectors in the kit to control shadows. If I don't like the window light, I can shut the curtains and use the light stand and 5000K light source in the kit.
With this kind of setup, not only do you have more control over lighting, background and other elements, you can avoid having to lay on your belly or turn yourself upside-down to get the correct angle. Adjustments are easy to make and you'll have a little more latitude with depth of field, too, because you've eliminated the background distractions. Obviously, things like bokeh effects won't be quite as easy to create, but with a good, clean background, adding anything in post-processing is much easier than eliminating clutter from outdoor shots.
Shooting nature indoors isn't always going to be the best choice, but it's something that you should be keeping in mind when the situation or the project calls for it. There will be times when it's the most practical way to get the effect you want without the trouble you'd have to go to outside. Give it a try!