Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Insect Photos

When I lived in Dallas and later, Missouri, there were a LOT of interesting bugs.  I outfitted my 3 MP camera with a closeup lens and flash bracket and took a few pictures of some of them.  The pictures below were originally posted to my web site and now moved over here...

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 metallic green bees.

A leaf butterfly.

This is called a mantis fly.

A bee fly on a thistle.

A Synchlora moth.  This one is about 1/2" long.

I managed to catch this Syrphid fly hovering in front of the camera lens.  Maybe he was looking at his reflection. 
Syrphid fly at rest.

This is a real moth I found on my porch in Missouri.  It was about 1/2" long.

A bright green grasshopper.

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

A classic "bug".

A small (about 3 mm  long) metallic green fly.

Honey bee surveying a thistle in Dallas.

Another honey bee, landing on a flower.

Another honey bee looking for a meal.  Honey bees are great subjects because they hover a lot and don't seem to mind if you get close to them.

Another honey bee.

Last one, I promise...

This is an Acorn Weevil, (Curculio sp.) about 1/4" long.  More info here.

Another shot of the acorn weevil.  Yes, he's pretty small.

A cicada emerging from its shell.

The cicada, about 15 minutes later.

This dragon fly lifted its head and smiled for the camera.

An Imperial moth.

One of my favorites from Missouri- a male Luna moth.

Another Luna moth.  

A Polyphemus moth

A thistle that's releasing seeds.

A Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar.

This was a surprise!  The Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar has some foul smelling scent glands that pop out of its body just behind the head when it's disturbed.


  1. Incredible photos! I love shooting pics, just never seem to make time. Maybe now I will make time, great inspiration 😊

    1. Thanks! These pictures are all about 10+ years old. Since then I've acquired a much better camera and an almost antique Canon 200mm macro lens. I'll dig out some of those pictures and make another post soon. The macro lens has super short depth of field, so one of these days I'll make a sliding rig for it so I can stack multiple images to get increased DOF.


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