Posts Tagged ‘equipment’

Aptenopedes aptera (Acrididae: Melanoplinae: Conalcaeini) at Archbold Biological Station in Venus, FL. Thanks to Sam Heads for classification assistance. Click image to enlarge.

After attending last year’s BugShot 2011, I developed a list of things I wanted to do, or further investigate. Shortly thereafter I suddenly found myself as an interim Assistant Director of the school, which put everything on that list WAY back on the burner.

After attending last week’s BugShot 2012, I now have another list of things I need to do/investigate. They follow, in no particular order. This time I hope to actually do the things on the list!

  1. Check out the Bogen/Manfrotto Clamp and Magic Arm.
  2. Check out the Kirk Enterprises Window/Table Mount.
  3. Check out the Trekpod.
  4. Check out Cowboy Studio for a wide array of macrophotography equipment.
  5. Paint the IKEA Lazy Susan (purchased last year) white for white box work.
  6. Check into the various portable collapsible and more permanent online white box construction plans (future blog entry).
  7. Check out http://www.millpondstudios.com/, but I don’t remember why….
  8. Check out flash battery packs made by Nikon and Pixel.
  9. Read the instructions that accompany the Nikon Twin Flash system. I REALLY need to do that.
  10. Remember to use a lens hood when using white box to reduce the bounce of light within the lens.
  11. Check out Lastolite soft box diffuser.
  12. Check out Nikon brand teleconverters, particularly the 1.7x teleconverter.
  13. Check out spitting spider on YouTube.
  14. Ask Lee for image shown the last night of critiques for dragonfly family keying demonstration.
  15. Contact Becky regarding scorpion images.
  16. Check out PhotoAttorney regarding image rights contracts.
  17. Check out Really Right Stuff’s Nikon-associated macro equipment.
  18. Check John Hallmen’s macrophotography.
  19. Check out the Canon PowerShot XS-40.
  20. REALLY check out Cognysis, particularly the StopShot.

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The black light set-ups were great for observing species diversity, as well as mating of numerous species. Rove beetles were present in particularly large numbers. Click/double click to enlarge.

Last night I stopped in during the “Night Bugs” program at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium. Staff and an array of volunteers set up three sheets with blacklights.

Microscopes were available for those who wanted to look more closely at insects of interest. Several entomologists were on hand to  help with identification and answer questions.

It was certainly a very nice, informative, congenial way to spend a few hours during a summer evening!

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Brachypelma smithi (Mexican red knee tarantula) poses for me as I captured one of my first images with the Nikon R1C1 lighting system. Click/double click image to enlarge.

I hope to spend some time over the next two weeks developing experience with the Nikon R1C1 macro lighting system.

It seems like it will be a lot of fun and quite versatile if I put in the required time reading, planning and experimenting. Time. I just have to squeeze it into an ever-expanding schedule.

I’m a little sparse on photographic subjects after the unexpected loss of one of the tarantulas, so I think I may have to practice using inanimate objects, which will likely be a WHOLE lot less fun…

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Green mantispid (Zeugomantispa minuta) at one of BugShot 2011 black lights (Shaw Nature Reserve, Gray Summit, MO, September 2, 2011). Click/double click to enlarge.

We began the OUTSTANDING BugShot 2011 with each of the three instructors sharing their top 5 tips for outstanding macrophotography. Below I summarize one tip from each instructor that was made particularly relevant to me based on how I currently photograph.

John Abbott taught me and consistently showed me, that I need to use my tripod, tripod, tripod. Beginning this week I will do that, do that, do that. I’ve already seen a difference in some of my shots.

Thomas Shahan made clear the power of elevating the specimen I am photographing to give it a greater sense of importance and power. That’s what it’s all about. Or kinda’ all about.

Alex Wild helped me realize the importance of light manipulation and the fact that I can be much more flexible and creative than I currently am using my present equipment. I now have about two years of lighting things that I need to try and am really looking forward to experimenting.

If you didn’t go to the workshop this year and have even a little bit of interest in arthropod macrophotography you REALLY should go next year.

Equipment that can make my world a better place…

(Please note this is not all inclusive, but is a great starting point for anyone who already has some macrophotography experience.)

Panasonic Lumix cameras

Air rocket

Plamp (got one already, attaches to my tripod, tripod, tripod)

Cognysis automatic focus railing

White box (though my XotoPro kinda white boxes on its own… https://thingsbiological.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/encouraging-an-understanding-and-appreciation-of-spiders/)

IKEA Lazy Susan

2 gallon all glass aquarium

Glass partition to move specimens to the front of the aquarium for photography

Web Sites

Odonata Central Virtual Image Library

Cognisys, Inc.

Performance Database 




Software Photo Recovery

Adobe LightRoom ($43 education pricing for me and a bunch of others!)

Books to Browse

Secret Worlds: The Miracle of Flight, note that there are five hardcover copies available for less than $1 from Amazon associates.

Damselflies of Texas: A Field Guide

Matt Kowalski’s Light Room book (can’t find it so far, but if someone else can and wants to share a URL, it’ll be right here pretty quickly!)

Thanks so much to all of the BugShot 2011 instructors, participants and support folk. It was a great experience, I learned a huge amount, and met a bunch of people with whom I hope to stay connected well into the future!

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What's more fun than this???

Last week I presented a program regarding macrophotography at a Champaign County Camera Club meeting. It was a lot of fun and very well received.

The presentation traces my experiences over the past two years. It chronicles my introduction to macrophotography at an Alex Wild workshop, learning from bloggers including Alex and Ted MacRae, my first summer of photography, introduction to photo competitions and the Photographic Society of America, the beginnings of this blog, and culminates with an introduction to macrophotography equipment and where I think the macrophotography journey will take me next.

Two videos were embedded in the presentation. URLs for accessing those videos are provided.

Click the following link to download – macrophotography2011Final


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Evening picture of a camel cricket. Click image to better see this cricket's markings.

These wingless, humpbacked crickets are nocturnal. Unlike the camel crickets found in the midwest, this species has beautiful, symmetric markings. Why such ornate markings on a nocturnal animal? The answer was obvious  to me when I saw this cricket on the light colored rock above on a moonlit evening. I never would have seen the cricket if I hadn’t been looking at the rock as the cricket ran across it. Another cryptic Sonoran species!

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My first wild tarantula! This picture was taken in the dark using a headlight to focus initially on the tarantula. I used the XotoPro flash to get the illumination and image clarity.

I had the opportunity to meet Barbara Reger  at the invertebrate conference in Arizona last week. She has a better grasp of tarantula biology than anyone else I know. She found the male tarantula pictured above, who was in search of a female. We hoped to observe tarantula mating (since tarantulas aren’t shy) but were unsuccessful in that pursuit.

In search of girls...

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Brilliant green ambush bug on hybrid gold daylily.

I had opportunity to get out between thunderstorms to capture a few images. Many of the plant-associated insects are nice and shiny after a few successive summer showers. The humidity and the water droplets on the leaves and insects combine to make many of these plant-animal combinations appear even more stunning!

Firefly evening shot. The blade of grass in the background wasn't planned, but works pretty effectively.

Pictures taken using a small red filter headlamp, Nikon D50 SLR camera, Nikon 60mm macro lens, XotoPro three light system, and a 12mm Kenko extension tube.

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Soldier beetle (Ancistronycha bilineata) feeding on flower bud secretions.

Last night a platoon of soldier beetles (Ancistronycha bilineata) showed up on the ready-to-open peony  buds throughout our yard.  They were focused on feeding on bud secretions. It was a nice opportunity to try out the XotoPro flash mount on the camera. I clearly need to practice a lot with this new toy, but its potential is pretty clear.

Like other soldier beetles, Ancistronycha also feeds on other insects and produces defensive chemical compounds.

Reference: Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Eaton and Kaufman, 2007.

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Lampyrid (firefly) larva with extended, slug draining mouthparts. Double click for slug's eye view.

I purchased a XotoPro Twin Flash Mount unit in January. I had a lot of fun photographing smoke with it, but since I live in a place where outdoor arthropods are absent during the winter, the unit (and I) had to wait to do arthropod stuff.

TGIQ of Fall to Climb posted a great set of firefly larva pictures in March, which caused me to start looking for larvae in our yard. Since they’re pretty fascinating, it seems only appropriate that I start with them. The pictures are pretty good, though I need to experiment significantly more before I can put forth a meaningful review. The head is generally retracted, but I did get a few shots of the larva moving with its head extended.

XotoPro Macro Twin Flash Mount

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