Insects

Solo Monarch (Two Photographs)

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Monarchs are marvellous butterflies and having posted a pair mating earlier this week, I thought I would try a solo monarch in black and white. I have published the colour version for comparison.


Mating Monarchs (Two Photographs)

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I may have posted these before; but they were one of the highlights from last summer. I doubt I will be seeing anything quite so good this year. In fact I am seeing little opportunity for photography without risk these days. I took a quick look at a favourite nature reserve and it was packed with people.


Hanging In (Two Photographs)

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The way these dragonflies have landed illustrates how delicate and light they are. I have seen naturalists capture them and hold them in their hand before letting them go again, a very delicate manoeuvre. In photographic terms the position of the insects says something about them and that’s a story.


White Admiral Butterfly (Three Photographs)

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This was one very nice butterfly, and I took over sixty shots (more to come). It was late in the season and as you can tell from the last photo its wings had been damaged, a sure sign of age in a butterfly.


Flying Bees (Two Photographs)

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I have mentioned bees in flight before and the problems of capturing shots of them. These were taken at a relatively low speed for anything in flight 1/800th of a second. These shots were enlarged and I would prefer to be closer to the bee for more detail. I am beginning to think that taking shots of bees in flight is not a skill but luck.


Issues with Bees (Two Photographs)

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I have taken many photographs of bees as my long time followers will know, but very few in flight or moving. These are typical of shots taken with a high shutter speed and a fairly large aperture. Taking photographs of bees in flight is challenging because they vibrate at high speeds even when appearing still. It’s why I mostly stick to bees that have fully landed.


LadyBug (Two Photographs)

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These two photographs were all about how these colours and textures would work in black and white. I like lady bugs. Their amazing acrobatics make for great photos, but sometimes the photo is part of how you learn.


Painted Lady (Two Photographs)

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Butterflies are beautiful in flight and on flowers. On the latter they are sometimes like ballerinas. I try to shoot butterflies in a way that I can see as much of the body, eyes and wings as possible, and against as good a background I can get.


A World Without Bees (Two Photographs)

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I could not imagine a world without bees; they do so much for us as they are prodigious pollinators. As for photography, they make great subjects. It is sometimes hard to get great detail in the body shadows, or see the eyes. For me that depends on the sun, as I chose not to do too much work in processing.


Damselflies (Two Photographs)

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I remain impressed with the combination of the Nikon D500 and the 200-500 F5.6 lens. I have shot damselflies up close with a macro lens and it’s not just more difficult but the closer you are the more likely your subject will fly off. That is much less likely with a 500 mm lens.


Lotus Borer Beetle (Three Photographs)

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This longhorn beetle is a real pest and its rather hostile look does not help its image. You can see on its back the distinctive “W” markings. I have never seen them in flight and they are not easily disturbed by noise or flash.


Dragonfly (Two Photographs)

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Not all dragonflies are wonderful up close and one seldom has the flexibility for too many perspectives in shooting them. In these two shots of the same insect you can see some of the issues, such as how much is in focus.


Painted Lady (Two Photographs)

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Painted Ladies have been my favourite butterflies for the past several years. They are not easily spooked or distracted from their task and therefore could be said to pose. This gives you much more time to get your thoughts in order than with most butterflies that need to be shot on the fly.


Butterflies (Two Photographs)

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Butterflies like the White Admiral and the American Lady are among the wonders of nature. I particularly like the many different coloured eyes and the design in the eyes of butterflies. Most of the time I notice them as they fly past. Only a few stop long enough for closer look.


Hummingbird Moth (Two Photographs)

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The secret with these insects is that once you see one stick with it, they are rare and don’t stay around very long. I have recently been experimenting with a square 1×1 crop and find it quite helpful in highlighting the subject.


Painted Lady and the Light (Two Photographs)

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I took thirty-two photographs of this butterfly. The first one here was the first one I took. After that the clouds moved, the butterfly moved and my natural soft lighting fell apart. In photography shoot first ask questions afterwards, you may never get a better chance.


Cabbage White (Three Photographs)

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The cabbage white is a common butterfly around my area. Here I wanted to show how It goes about its routine. That proboscis is long (relative to the size of the butterfly). Like many animals the time to shoot is when they are occupied.


Grasshopper (Two Photographs)

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Assuming you want your insect to look more like a space alien I suggest using monochrome. Grasshoppers’ defensive movements are predictable. This makes it easier to shoot them when they finally stop jumping.


A Note about Ladybugs (Two Photographs)

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Many photographs of ladybugs have bright burnt out spots on the shells where the sun is reflected. If you compensate for that in camera you get a dark shot with a lot of noise. You can paint the spots away, which I have done in one shot here, but the spots are natural and arise from the bright sun. So if possible shoot on a cloudy day or not under direct sunlight. Whether they are mating or not has nothing to do with the spots.


A Caveat about Bees (Two Photographs)

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I take many photos of bees working away at flowers. I have discovered that bees in flight are another matter altogether. Unlike birds in flight, bees have many moving parts, and to my surprise a less predictable flight path. A much much higher shutter speed, 1/800th would help. The second photograph is the best I have managed and the challenge is on for the coming summer.


Too Busy (Two Photographs)

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The bees I see are far too busy to notice me sneaking about. In fact nothing bothers them (including flash). They are on a mission though their music lacks that R&B sound. Seriously, scientists say they make a short whoop when they bounce into each other.


Uninvited (Two Photographs)

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I am sure that at some point in the life of every photographer, something unexpected showed up in the frame. This is particularly true in nature, where the concept of intrusion, trespass, and photobombing is unknown to insects and other beasts. In this case it was welcome, often it’s not.


Dusky Wing and approach to Butterflies (Two Photographs)

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My criteria for butterflies making good subjects is beautiful eyes, they’re doing something special (e.g. mating) or some detail distinguishing the butterfly that is interesting. In this case the interest is in the proboscis.


An Interest in Insects

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Those who have followed my work for a while know of my interest in insects. Strange and wonderful creatures. Regrettably, in 2019 the opportunities to photograph them did not present themselves as often as in previous years. I am hopeful that the coming year will be better. This winter you will see what shots I was able to get. In this case it’s a mimic fly, also known as a hover fly.