Posts Tagged ‘macrophotography’


Two syrphid flies feed from a peony flower at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Arboretum’s Idea Garden. Click/double click image to enlarge.

National Pollinator Week (June 17-23) in Champaign-Urbana ends with two days of pollinator-related activities. As usual, the University of Illinois’ entomology department coordinates all of the local activities. Information regarding several particularly noteworthy workshops follows:

Saturday, June 22 – Exploring the Science of Pollination (11 AM – noon, Urbana Library)

Sunday, June 23 – Guided Nature Walk (10 AM- noon, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana), Insect Photography Workshop (Noon – 1 PM, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana), Nurturing Native Bees Workshop (2 PM – 3 PM, U of I Pollinatarium, Urbana)

Alex Wild, author of Myrmecos, will lead the photography workshop. It’s a great opportunity to learn about macrophotography. His National Pollinator Week insect photography workshop in 2009 was the catalyst that started my interest in macrophotography.

All activities are free of charge. The full schedule, accessible at http://www.life.illinois.edu/entomology/pollinators/, provides additional detail.

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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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Alex Wild (Myrmecos)  and Ted MacRae (Beetles in the Bush) are well known entomologists who blog regarding various arthropods they encounter throughout the year. These exceptional ambassadors for the six- and eight-legged end each blogging year with a “Best of …” set of photographs that stand out personally for each of them.

Following Alex and Ted’s lead, I’m doing the same thing. I’ve selected a dozen shots that will hopefully allow others to experience what I experience on the other side of the lens.

Though each image is small, a link is provided to its original posting. Clicking that link will bring you to additional information as well as the option of image enlargement. The last two images are from two particularly enjoyable arthropod-related conferences/workshops I attended during 2011.

Here we go, and thanks for reading!

1. Courtship: Singing bush cricket

Night shot of a singing male taken at home in Urbana, IL. I was so taken with photographing this individual that I didn't think to switch my camera to video mode. Argh!

Magnifiable original entry

2. Mating: Adrenids

Image captured in the Sonoran Desert during the 2011 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference in Rio Rico, AZ. The moving pepper grain-sized arthropod on the tiny flower turned out to be this mating pair once I magnified the image.

Magnifiable original entry

3. Birth: Aphid

I was preparing to photograph the leafhopper (above) during a collecting trip with my Field Biology class when I discovered the female aphid below it giving birth.

Magnifiable original entry

4. Development: Mesquite bug nymph

Picture of a stunning nymph taken using my wife's point-and-shoot camera at el Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden Ecological Preservation Zone in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

Magnifiable original entry

5. Development: Young jumping spider

This miniscule jumping spider was attracted to its reflection on my camera lens. Image captured at Meadowbrook Park, Urbana, IL.

Magnifiable original entry

6. Molting: Red knee tarantula

Image of a freshly molted red knee tarantula and its exoskeleton. Click on the link to the original entry to closely examine the exoskeleton.

Magnifiable original entry

7. Final Molt: Dog Day Cicada

I love the clarity of the nymphal exoskeleton and the newly emerged adult. Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time!

Magnifiable original entry

8. Foraging: Ant

Image captured somewhere in the Sonoran Desert during the 2011 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference in Rio Rico, AZ.

Magnifiable original entry

9. Pollination: Megachilid

Image captured at the University of Illinois Aboretum's Idea Garden.

Magnifiable original entry

10. Parasitism: Phalangid

I observed this phalangid parasitized by mites at Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood, IL.

Magnifiable original entry

11. Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference: Bark Scorpion

My first wild scorpion image! This species has the most potent venom of any scorpion in North America.

Magnifiable original entry

The 2012 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference will take place July 31 – August 5 in Tucson, AZ.

12. BugShot 2011: Mantispid

The first living mantispid I've encountered was attracted during one of the evening communal BugShot, 2011 blacklight sessions.

Magnifiable original entry

BugShot 2012 will be held Aug 23-26, 2012 at Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL.

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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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Approximately 24 hours after the molt the coloration changes are significant. This individual should be stunning as an adult. Double-click to enlarge.

The timing could have been no better. The lighter colored of the two Mexican red-knee tarantula spiderlings purchased in October stopped eating almost two weeks ago. It became inactive and began showing subtle coloration changes including a darkening abdomen, both indicative of an upcoming molt.

Yesterday I arrived at school a little before 1 PM to open the biology and computer labs for the Saturday ExploraVision and  Field Biology open labs. I checked the spiders and found this individual on its back on a sparse web, moving minimally. Thanks to all of the YouTube molting videos I knew that was the norm, though I have to admit that each time the spider moved I did feel better.

About a half hour later a white apparition began emerging from just above the top of the chelicerae. The apparition’s massive chelicerae – about three times the size of the chelicerae immediately below them – were stunning. The pale spider pushed through it old exoskeleton over the next hour, rising above its former exoskeleton. Exhausted and soft bodied, it lay attached to its water bowl. It later fell to its side, rolled upside down again, and laid motionless for the next half hour.

I successfully avoided the impulse to flip it upright and checked on the spider between my periods of working with individual students. The spider continued to lay motionless, darkening and hardening over the next half hour. Two hours after the start of the molt, the newly emerged spider righted itself, having darkened almost to the point of its sibling in the previous entry. A few minutes later, at 2 PM, the open lab was done. The students and I were able to observe the process in its entirety while they worked on their arthropod collections. The timing truly could have been no better. I wish I would have had my camera with me…

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First molt since I acquired this Mexican red knee tarantula spiderling. Double-click image for the full impact.

After about six weeks of red knee tarantula ownership, the first of the two red knee tarantulas I purchased molted. The molt occurred somewhere between 5 PM  November 23 and 9 AM November 24. The image above shows the exoskeleton as well as the tarantula almost two days after the molt. A penny provides size perspective. Adult type coloration is clearly beginning to appear.

Video of a different red knee tarantula individual molting can be accessed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSCd2jjjn0c&feature=related.

The shed exoskeleton, showing the start of subtle shading on various leg regions, is at the bottom of the picture. The shed abdomen is rotated 90 degrees from its original position. You can clearly see the pedicel, the narrow connection between the cephalothorax and abdomen. The nerve cord, aorta and digestive tract pass through the narrow, cord-like pedicel.

The exoskeleton’s chelicerae and associated fangs are rotated forward, giving the impression of greater body length than was actually the case.

The freshly molted individual is considerably larger than it was prior to the molt.. The original brown spider with subtle shading now possesses an entirely black abdomen, some black leg shading and the start of the orange/red “knees” that give the spider its common name. The colors will become even brighter with each future molt. An adult Mexican red knee tarantula with full coloration can be seen on the cover of “The Tarantula Keeper’s Guide,” assessed four blog entries ago.

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"Leafhopper with Aphids" made a strong showing at its first competition. Click image to enlarge.

Four of the five images submitted were accepted in last weekend’s competition. This is my third year as a member of the Champaign County Camera Club, so this competition marks the second anniversary of my participation in club and PSA photography competitions.

Results of the 2009 CICCA competition were a good indicator of which images would do well in PSA competitions later that year. The 2010 CICCA competition wasn’t nearly as good of a predictor. We’ll see how well the 2011 competition bears out, though it’s predicting 100% right now.

The Mesquitebug nymph pictured in the previous entry was my top scoring image, earning 22 points (20 was the minimum for acceptance, 21 was the minimum for Honorable Mention). The image of the leafhopper with the aphid giving birth below it scored 21 points and an HM. The Sonoran Desert Ant and Megachilid images (see pevious entry) were both accepted. The salticid image that just missed being accepted in the 2011 ESA competition also just missed acceptance in the CICCA competition.

Good information for putting together the next few sets of competition entries.

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Mesquitebug Nymph - Image taken using Marian's point and shoot camera during a day of hiking at El Charco del Ingenio Nature Reserve, just outside of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, June, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

Results from the 2011 ESA International Insect Photography Salon arrived this morning. I love this particular salon. It allows me to see how a subset of four of my images stack up to those of many of the world’s best arthropod photographers.

I diverged completely from my normal international nature photography strategy, entering a set of images four images that have never been entered in a PSA competition before.

Aren’t I reckless? No, I don’t think so either, but this is as reckless as I get…

I was pleased to see three images receive honors.

Results follow:

Mesquitebug Nymph 14/15 points (see above)

Sonoran Desert Ant 14/15 points

I photographed this ant in the Sonoran Desert (my VERY FAVORITE place) during the 2011 Invertebrates in Education and Conservation Conference (July, 2011). Click image to enlarge.

Pollinating Megachilid 13/15 points

This megachilid was thoughtful enough to pose for me at the University of Illinois Arboretum's Idea Garden, August, 2011. Click image to enlarge.

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An aphid spewing offspring during last Sunday's collecting trip. Click to enlarge.

During last Sunday’s field biology collecting trip at the intersection of First and Windsor in Champaign I had opportunity to photograph the spittle bug shown above. As I focused I noticed the aphid pictured below.

Watching the birth of an aphid through a macro lens is pretty fascinating.

You just never know what you’ll encounter during a field photo session…

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Female white-banded crab spider (Misumenoides formosipes) with prey. Image captured during BugShot 2011 at Shaw Nature Reserve, Gray Summit, MO. Click image to enlarge.

White-banded crab spiders are ambush predators found in open habitats. Located on or under flowers, their prey consist largely of pollinating bees, flies and wasps.

Individuals can change color to match their surroundings, though the color transitions can take several days.

Ted MacRae shows another image of an individual of the same species with differing coloration at http://beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/bugshot-2011-final-thoughts/.

A wide variety of color variations, as well as images of males with females, can be found at http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/spiders/Misumenoides%20formosipes.htm.

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