What’s in a name? (and a reminder about white balance.)
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Two relatively ugly insects mating on the ground probably doesn’t make for a spectacular photo. However, it’s the back story here that taught me a lesson. Frequently people ask me what I’m shooting, the relatively large soft box I use for lighting raises curiosity. I was taking this picture when a person came by who is normally of few words and told me they were cadaver beetles. Now if you know what it is like to look up insect names, you will understand my appreciation of this tip. On returning home none of my books had reference to a cadaver beetle and I have a lot of reference books (the pictures in most reference books are not always helpful – think police station mug shot portfolio). Google was more helpful, it came up with American Carrion Beetle and with that my reference books worked somewhat better. Had I not had the original hint I would not have known where to begin; popular names of insects change all the time and the entomologists are working on a new taxonomy of beetles so figuring out what is what can be a bit tricky. One other point about these beetles is that they perform a sort of taxi service to dinner for some other smaller insects. From a photographic perspective, what made a huge difference to this photo was setting the white balance in post-processing. I do not do that often enough but it can really help make a photograph work out right.