I really don’t like mosquitoes. More accurately, I really don’t like being bitten by mosquitoes. But then, who does? Unfortunately, it often seems that places with great diversity of insects and other tiny creatures to photograph are also areas that are teeming with mosquitoes. In those situations taking pictures means getting bitten. I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have been out in the bush, on my knees in an awkward position, trying to carefully to compose a photo of some small critter while feeling mosquitoes landing on my arms, or neck, or face and starting to bite. In instances like that you just have to decide which is more important: to get the picture or shoo away the mosquitoes. I always chose the picture and as a result I have been bitten literally thousands of times. I don’t use DEET or other bug repellent because I don’t want to get any nasty chemicals on my camera equipment. Wearing a long sleeved shirt can help, but it doesn’t protect your face and hands. Besides, even a long sleeved shirt won’t do much good if it gets stretched tight over your elbow or some other contact point—the mosquitoes can still bite through the material. I can remember being in the Amazon basin some 20 years ago with my elbows resembling red lumpy oatmeal from hundreds of bites! I had similar experiences in East Africa…I’m probably lucky that at some point I haven’t contracted malaria or some sort of awful fever!
I didn’t go out the other day intending to get bitten by a mosquito—I was actually trying to photograph ants. But this mosquito landed on the back of my left hand and it was too of an opportunity to pass up. I already had my camera set-up and ready in my right hand with the flash charged and the lens focused to maximum magnification. All I had to do was focus on the mosquito and click the shutter. My only regret (well, other than I had to let the little bugger bite me) was that I had the lens aperture stopped down to F22. That gave me maximum depth of field to work with, but I would rather have opened the lens to F11 or maybe F8 to improve the resolution of the image. Unfortunately that would have required me to use both hands to hold the camera and adjust the flash (which was on manual); and I didn’t want to scare the mosquito away before it started to bite me. Boy, I never thought I would ever say that! Sadly, I guess I will have to go out again someday soon and try and re-shoot this series…talk about suffering for your art!
The other photos in this series are shown in order below.
I have to admit that mosquitoes are pretty interesting from a biological standpoint. For example, if you look closely at the last three pictures in the series you will see that the mosquito has excreted a very tiny drop of fluid. This process (called prediuresis: your word for today) apparently helps to concentrate the nutritious red blood cells and remove excess fluid. This fluid is primary urine, so yes, that drop is mosquito “pee”.
OK, that was probably too much information for some of you—but I find it pretty interesting. I still don’t like mosquitoes though.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F22 @ 1/60 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (manual; ¼ power)