What’s in a name? (and a reminder about white balance.)

Cadaver BeetlesTo view more of my photography please click on www.rakmilphotography.com

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.

10 responses

  1. Sex is sure in the air by you! 😉
    ID-ing ‘nature things’ is challenging alright! I’ve got the plants down, now I’m just working on everything else. .

    Liked by 1 person

    September 9, 2015 at 6:35 am

  2. I try to ID my bugs too. Sure is a challenge. BugGuide.net is great. They have helped me with ones I am stumped by.

    Like

    September 9, 2015 at 7:57 am

    • They are great. I have 50-60 I am still trying to figure out, if I fail I know where to send them!

      Like

      September 9, 2015 at 8:39 am

  3. These guys do the planet such a great service. Your photo shows their texture and color quite well!

    Like

    September 9, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    • Thank you. It was the yellow color and then the texture that caught my eye.

      Like

      September 9, 2015 at 4:23 pm

  4. Your soft box has worked very well Victor. I use a diffuser but it is hand made and not as good as I would like. My reference library is pretty good but I am always defeated by fungi. So tricky. We have several excellent groups on Facebook that provide so much ID support. The Internet helps enormously.

    Liked by 1 person

    September 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm

  5. I love their “collars”–like Puritans.

    Like

    September 9, 2015 at 10:00 pm

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