Equipment, Technique

Techniques Used

Almost all the insects that I photograph are alive and in the place where I have found them. It is important whenever possible to show not only the insect but also the foodplant on which it has been found. From time to time, however, I find a dead specimen or someone brings me a specimen that is already dead. In such a case I attempt to reconstruct the insects natural surroundings either outside, or where circumstances demand, for example if the insect is very small in a studio set. It can be exceedingly difficult to make a dead insect appear alive as small detail such as the position of the tarsus (foot) as well as the antennae need to be properly positioned. Before handling the specimen needs to be relaxed (softened) in order to be able to move the limbs without breaking them, often even this does not help and after losing a few legs the specimen is no longer worth photographing.

Great care and patience is required. Photographing insects is in many ways like hunting wild game and many of the same principals apply. Insects have acute hearing, they can sense minute vibrations and have excellent eyesight, their multifaceted eyes being able to pick up the slightest movement or change in light. Many are as vigilant as the most nervous buck and most possess the capability of flight. When stalking a skittish butterfly or dragonfly with a camera and long lens capable of only a few centimeters of field depth every bit of the skill and dedication of the big game hunter is often needed. Knowing your subject and its habits helps a lot too. Many insects will repeatedly return to the same plant or flower and this allows one to settle down and “ambush” it as it returns.

I have neither very expensive nor very specialised equipment. I make use of two cameras, a Canon Powershot G3 and a Canon 300D. The majority of my photographs have been taken with the 300D. Although I have recently acquired a 100mm macro lens, many of my photographs have been taken using a F4.5 80-200mm zoom lens with various homemade attachments including lenses salvaged from an old pair of binoculars which make excellent supplementary lenses. I use these in various combinations as well as a reversed 55mm Pentax lens either alone or attached to the zoom lens or the macro lens. I furthermore have a Nikon SMZ-10 trinocular stereo zoom microscope which I use for identifying and studying specimens and to which I am able to fit either of my cameras.

The only basic requirements are that the article fit the broad theme of the Insecta website, that is, that it be of interest to nature lovers and/or nature photographers. It must obviously be your own work and your name and contact information must be supplied. If you wish you can do your own layout of text and pictures based on a 1024 x 768 screen resolution or simply forward text and pictures and I will do the layout to fit the style of the Insecta website. Do take note, however, that articles that I consider unsuitable will not be published, the discretion lies entirely with me. No payment will be made for articles or photographs published, the copyright of all text and photographs remains that of the author/photographer.