What would a trip to a tropical country be without any interesting bugs to shoot? Not much fun, that’s what, so today I would like to introduce you to a new friend of mine.
This guy was the size of a fairly large attack chopper, and I’m not even exaggerating (at least not very much). We were visiting a kind of park and my mission statement was simple: find bugs. When I first heard this guy I knew I was on to something big and he certainly didn’t disappoint once he came into view. The first times I approached he took off before I could get any shots, he seemed very suspicious towards the lens and I could see those big eyes following me as I tried to move around for a good composition. Luckily it turned out that he really liked the pole he was sitting on because he kept coming back to it. My wife suggested putting a flower on the pole to get him to stay longer but when I did so he just hovered around it and seemed affronted that someone had messed with his best sitting spot – as soon as the flower was gone he settled down again.
Even though he kept coming back to the same spot over and over, he also kept taking off whenever I got close. However, I was patient and kept waiting next to the pole so he would get used to me and after several failed attempts I did get some pretty good shots. I even went away for a while and then came back again to shoot him some more. At one point I was off hunting some other bugs close by and saw (and heard, he was like a flying chainsaw) him flying above me. I pointed at his pole and told him to get back there and pose for me and he promptly did so, very helpful.
Getting him in focus was surprisingly difficult considering he was so big. Actually I think the size was part of what made it difficult to focus that close; I’m used to a lot smaller bugs where I can fit more of them into the available depth of field but for this guy I could pretty much only get one eye in focus if I shot just a bit off from one side. What I should have done, but was too stuck in my ways to consider at the time, was to back off a bit and shoot some whole figure shots in addition to the close ups. Toward the end of our session the sun was starting to set so the light was quite nice. By backing off a bit I could have opened the aperture and still kept focus, skipped the flash (or still used it as fill) and gotten some lovely light from the sun. If I ever run in to something this big again I definitely have to remember to be more flexible in my approach or I might miss shots that are staring me in the face.
Missed opportunities aside, the results were still pretty good and I got quite attached to this big fellow, I hope he’s still enjoying his pole and that he won’t cheat on me with other photographers. As always, be sure to check the large versions so you can appreciate the details.