After shooting bugs for a while you’ll start learning what you can get away with when it comes to different kinds of bugs. Some critters won’t mind to let you get close and will even let you handle them to a certain degree. Others will take flight or scurry away at the slightest hint that you might not be part of the scenery. These things also depends on the time of day, the weather and the particular disposition of your current subject. Getting to know these quirks is essential to getting the really good shots. In the end it comes down to experience, since I don’t think it’s something that can really be taught – so make sure you go out and shoot a lot.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky though; maybe your subject will be preoccupied with something else, like eating, or it will be too wet to fly away after a rain. That’s how I got the shots of this crane fly. Usually these long-legged fliers try to avoid interaction with stray photographers – you can shoot them, you just have to move in slowly – so I haven’t really tried to shoot them in my new style. Perhaps I should recap a bit here for those of you who aren’t regular readers. I shoot with a Nikon 85mm f3.5 macro lens and 68mm worth of Kenko extension tubes. That gets me a magnification around 2:1. I also use a LP160 flash on camera with a Lumiquest sofbox III attached. The way I most often shoot things is that I hold the grass, leaf, twig or whatever that the critter is sitting on in one hand and sit down with the camera supported on my knee to keep it reasonably steady. Now, you can see how that might be a problem if the subject is camera shy to begin with. Lately I’ve also been using coloured paper as background and that adds another layer of trickiness to things.
Let’s get back to our model of the day. The way in which this guy was indisposed was that he was partly stuck in a spider web. I was actually looking through the tall grass in search of spiders since I know that they like hanging out there, so I guess we both got lucky. I found myself some nice looking grass (you know the one with a fluffy top) and poked the critter from underneath to pull him free. I had already prepared a yellow paper for background since I though it would look nice with the dried and yellowed grass. The bug actually matched the colours perfectly so everything was kind of in sync. He still didn’t want to settle down completely but since he couldn’t move much due to the spider web still making his feet a bit sticky, I could easily get some nice shots. My favourite shot is the second one, I just think it has a nice sense of action (almost a kind of speed) to it.
Afterwards I thanked the little guy and set him free to go about his business. A lucky encounter for both of us, the best kind. Hope you guys like the shots as much as I do, keep shooting and I’ll see you next time.