A couple of days ago I had a business meeting in a restaurant very near to Deas Island Regional Park (South of Vancouver, BC). After my meeting ended I decided to take a walk in the park to check-out a large ant’s nest that I knew about. Unfortunately I had my camera and lens but nothing else, so I had to rely on the on-camera flash for lighting.
I headed down the path that would eventually take me to the nest but didn’t make it…the bushes along the way were teeming with tiny critters to photograph! I had the flash set to half or full power for most of the pictures I took, so I was using-up battery power quickly. I ended-up taking 135 photos before the battery was drained…and I wasn’t even close to the ant hill! Interestingly, almost a third of the photos I took were of spiders. The bushes were covered with them!
The picture above is a red and black soldier beetle (Rhagonycha fulva)—this little guy was totally checking me out! (See also About insects: the mystery of the pollen covered red and black soldier beetle).
Most of the insects and spiders I photographed were quite small, so I was shooting at maximum magnification (1:1) most of the time. And I didn’t have the lens stopped down all the way—for most of the photos the lens set to F11 (I alsomst always shoot at 100 ISO). The combination of magnification and aperture meant that I was working with a pretty shallow depth of field. Hand-holding the camera at that magnification without some support is challenging at the best of times—at least it is for me (maybe I need to lay off the coffee). But on this day there was also a gentle breeze blowing so all the plants were moving. Talk about frustrating! It was really difficult to catch just the right focus for most of the critters I photographed, and the majority of the pictures just weren’t good enough. But I did get enough “keepers” to share, as you can see.
I believe the photo above is of a fruit fly (family Lauxaniidae). They have such gorgeous eyes! You can really see how shallow the depth of field is in this picture.
The picture above is a leafhopper (family Cicadellidae).
The picture above is of a tiny little red mite (subclass Acari) that was a couple of millimetres across. This was the smallest critter I photographed that day. I have no idea how to identify it any further than to subclass. If someone knows more, please leave a comment!
I started this post with a picture of a spider, so I guess I’ll finish with one: another long-jawed orb weaver (Metellina). [Many thanks to Ciphor on Arachnoboards for identifying these spiders for me!]
It was really fun to find such a productive spot for macro photography, but I need to return with some better gear to really take advantage of the photographic opportunities. Besides, I still need to visit the ant hill! You can expect to see more photos taken on Deas Island really soon…in fact probably in my next post! Stay tuned…
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F11 @ 1/125 sec)
Lighting: on-camera flash (full power)