A bug’s life

Yeah, here I am again, prowling the yard for tiny things to photograph.

And play with my new Godox flash. Not all of these were taken with it, but some. My goal is to not make it look “flashed”.

This first one is a little sad. I fished her out of the river when I was on the dock, but she didn’t make it. Too waterlogged or damaged or something. They are one of the skimmer type of dragonfly I think. Smallish – less than 2 inches long. Not big like the clubtails further down the post. Those guys can have wingspans nearly 4 inches across!

Belted whiteface female

And hey look – a couple of decent hoverfly shots. So, ok they are not hovering, but baby steps! They are the really tiny kind – less than 1 cm long, but oh so cute.

Hover fly

Hang time

On my prowl I found this very tiny moth – about a centimeter long. I used autofocus, but adjusted manually and used focus peaking to make sure I got those eyes. They’re green! And there is some color on those wings, too. None of this can be seen with the naked eye; it just looks like a beige smudge. One of the reasons I love macro photography so much. These minute details are a wonder.

Epinotia nisella

Sorry for the deck shots with these next few, but when these guys are eating or having sex they are at least basically still. These are Cobra clubtails and first we have one eating a crane fly. I have many shots of the process and in the end all that was left was a few leg fragments and a wing or two. Dragonflies eat their own weight pretty much every day. No wonder though, all that energy used to fly has to come from somewhere.

Lunch al fresco

This is a nice look at how they mate and the differences between the genders. They don’t often look this different, but these two show the extremes of color they can reach. She is yellower and he is greener. It was a little awkward in terms of composition, but I liked the shadow they are throwing. I’m not sure if they stay connected while she lays the eggs as well, but I know some skimmers do and it’s kind of fun to watch. These guys may separate though because I think I’ve seen one ova positing when I was hanging out on the dock. They sort of fly at an angle right over the water and dip their tails into the water really fast. Just a little flick and each time they do it an egg is being deposited into the water.

Cobra sex

Another deck photo, this time of a cuckoo wasp. I’d noticed her coming to the same part of the corner of the house for a couple of days. Most of the time when I approached her she’d fly off, but eventually she settled and let me practically touch her with the lens. This is an imperfect 3-image stack, but I think it’s good enough to include. They look so artificial, like some tiny robot spy of the future. But no, those metallic colors are absolutely real and so metallic and shiny they really catch the eye despite her being only about 2 cm long. She was quivering and vibrating ever so slightly while I took the shots that went into this stack, so that’s why it’s not perfect. Her antennae moved quite a bit, as did one leg and basically her whole body shifted slightly. I still like it though. Only my second time photographing one. Here is the first one – also on the deck.

Whenever I’m relaxing on the deck I have the camera to hand because you never know who will drop by. Here’s a tiny weevil that let me get right in its long little face for this single image portrait. I think it’s a Listronotus sparsus, but I’m not 100% on that. It’s a cute little thing though (5mm long). Weevils are so endearing with those long snouts. This is not a stack, just a single photo at f/9. Because I was resting the camera and my hand right on the railing it’s 1/20th of a second. Thankfully it didn’t move!

Oh and check this out. Used off-camera flash to get this oil beetle eating –

Meloe americanus

It’s one of many shots I had to play with in order to get what I wanted in terms of light from the flash and the position of the insect. The eye really needs to be crisp and a nice side view with most of the beetle parallel to the focus plane. I’ve shot these beautiful bugs before, but never when one was just so intent on eating that it didn’t just crawl away. They either can’t fly or don’t do it often, sources conflict in the sense that some make a big deal of its flighlessness and others don’t mention it at all. This is the smallest one I’ve seen at only 3/4 of an inch or 2 cm. You can see some tiny drops of oil at the base of its forelegs. They make this as a defense if picked up or squeezed and so they’re also called Blister Beetles from the effect of that oil.

Anyway…that’s a quick look at how I’m progressing with macro and things that move. The flash certainly helps in that respect – the split-second light freezes action even with a slightly slower shutter speed than you would think could do it. Nice flexibility. Although it has TTL which is cool, I’ve had most success with the camera and the flash in manual. I think I could probably achieve the same results by using exposure compensation on the flash (which can be done on the camera when the flash is on the shoe), but I haven’t messed with that yet. More baby steps!

 

2 thoughts on “A bug’s life

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  1. What great captures! I love hover flies too, and your photos of them are wonderful. And the green eyes on the tiny moth! I especially like the cuckoo wasp. Amazing colors!

    1. Hey, thanks Pat. I was so surprised at the colors on the moth. Macro reveals wonders. The cuckoo wasp though is bright and unbelievably beautiful. Tiny and sometimes quite unsettled although persistent where they think a good egg-laying victim might be present.

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