Soldier Beetle (Two Photographs)
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When I first saw this I thought it was a firefly (also a beetle), but after consulting Arthur Evans’ massive work, Beetles of Eastern North America, I am leaning towards it being a soldier beetle (common in North America). They were plentiful in the spring and early summer, and pretty much disappeared by mid-summer. What was interesting was that the beetle seemed to be hunting and looking for something. I have no idea about its eyesight but in peering over a leaf at least four feet off the ground, it must be good for it to see anything including movement. From a photographic perspective regardless of ISO when you crop down significantly to frame the insect you will get noise. For most bugs, when you get closer than 30cm, you will need to ensure there is sufficient light either natural or artificial and as most insects are often under other leaves, flash is helpful. Flash and ISO help with stopping action, and the lower the power of your flash the more it will help stop action. I tend to shoot close-up on full manual, keeping my shutter speed at its highest flash synch speed (1/250th), and try to keep my flash below 1/8th power and my aperture between F11 and F16. It does not always work as many insects are reflective and you can get specular highlights (bright spots); sometimes even at F16 the depth of field is insufficient. All of this makes it a wonderful challenge.