Mark's Bug Pix

I've always liked optical toys, especially cameras and microscopes, and I've always liked creepy-crawlies (except chiggers, which I hate).  Shortly after I got my first decent digital camera I started shooting pictures of insects and bugs.  I lived in Dallas when I got my Fuji Finepix S602z 3 megapixel camera, and I quickly bought a color corrected 5X closeup lens.  I modified an external flash bracket and use a relatively low powered auto exposure flash unit for close-up work.

I set the camera for minimal sharpening, and usually use manual focus, then move the camera back and forth to focus the image.  Sometimes I get what I want after only four or five photos, other times I shoot twenty and can't get the image I want.  Digital photography is perfect for macro work like this- the film is really cheap!  Of course, the bugs don't always stand still either.  Whenever I can I try to capture them flying or on the run or jump.  It isn't easy but when it works it really works well.

My lens is often just a few inches from the bug.  By getting in close I maximize the bugs size in the view finder and get as many pixels as possible into the image.  In the photos where the background is bright, I used natural light, or set the flash to auto mode.  Using the flash at higher power setting makes the background, which is sometimes distracting, go black or nearly black.  It looks unnatural but focuses attention on the subject.  Yes, those photos are taken during the day, often in bright sunlight.  The flash is so close to the subject so a very short shutter speed can be used even with the lens stopped down to f11 for maximum depth of field.  The daylight illuminated portion of the scene is grossly underexposed making it go all but black, and the portion lit by the flash is perfectly exposed.

3 megapixels is getting to be a little low-res these days.  I hope to upgrade to a higher resolution camera sometime in the not too distant future.

Here are some of my favorite photos.


A pair of green bees.


 

I caught this syrphid fly (Pseudodoros clavatus?) while he was hovering just in front of my lens.

More info on these here.


This Synchlora moth is one of many beautiful moths that are attracted to my porch lights here in NE Missouri.

More info on them here.


This is a Bee Fly (thanks to Jeff Williams for ID), feeding on a thistle near Dallas.

Here's more info on them- they are weird!


This is called a mantis fly because of the praying mantis-like front legs.


Here's a leaf butterfly.


       

Here are a few honey-bee photos I've taken.  Honey-bees make ideal subjects because they fly slow enough that you can actually capture them in mid-air and still get a sharp photo.  They also tolerate a lot of attention without stinging.


Here's a small green fly of some sort or another.


Here's a classic bug.


Here's a small gray butterfly (Gray Hairstreak?) on a milk week plant near Dallas.  Can you find the aphid in this picture?


A lovely green grasshopper.


Believe it or not, this really is a moth, not a stuffed toy.  It is called a Large Tolype (Tolype velleda).  These guys start showing up at my porch lights in September, and every once in a while, if we have a warm evening in December I find them.  This moth is about 3/4" long.  More info on them here and here.


This dragonfly lifted his head and smiled for the photo!


 

How's that for a schnozz?  This is an Acorn Weevil, (Curculio sp.) about 1/4" long.  More info here.


  

This is a Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar.  This one was about 3" long.  In the second photo I poked him with a piece of grass to get him to reveal his scent glands. 


This is a dry thistle that I though looked sort of interesting.


Here is a Luna moth, certainly the biggest and probably the most beautiful of all the bugs that come to my porch lights.


  

Here is a cicada coming out of its shell.And here (s)he is a few minutes later.


A Polyphemus moth


This is an imperial moth I found on my porch one morning.  I have never seen another.  Warning, the file is big!


Another really large file... Here's something I played around with one day while learning how to tweak photos in Photoshop.  First I scanned my hand, then I used multiple layers to build up the image.  The rubberstamp tool worked well for blending the seams of the images without any obvious attachment points. 

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