A few days ago I posted a blog about a walk I took with my camera on Deas Island (Macro photography in the field: bug hunting with a camera on Deas Island). I wrote at the time that the diversity (and numbers) of insects and spiders in the park was great, but that I needed to return with some additional camera gear to take advantage of the photographic opportunities.
I headed back to Deas Island for another bug hunt just a couple of days later. I took the same camera and lens combination that I used on my previous walk (an Olympus e-620 DSLR body and Zuiko 35mm macro lens) and added the Olympus RF-11 ring flash I use so often for better, more powerful lighting. This is the same set-up I have used for many of the photos I have posted on this site.
The problem I had on my first trip to Deas Island was that between the breeze that was blowing, the shallow depth of field available when shooting macro, and my less than rock-steady camera hand-holding ability, I wasted a lot of pictures because I missed the critical point of focus (usually the eyes). For this return trip I wanted to include some camera support to make things a little easier. One option would have been to take a tripod. However, a tripod would have added considerably more weight and would have slowed me down significantly. Fixing the camera onto a tripod would have negated the speed and flexibility in positioning the camera that is one of the great benefits provided by an electronic flash. Instead I chose to take along a Manfrotto monopod with a small ball head. Monopods are light-weight and support the camera while allowing easy positioning. If you watch sports on TV you will see that a lot of sports photographers use monopods. The small ball head allowed me to very quickly orient the camera at any angle I chose.
The different pieces of equipment I took for this bug hunt are shown in the two pictures below.
Once again there was a great diversity of spiders doing interesting things—so needless to say I took lots of spider photos. But I featured spiders in my last blog about Deas Island, so I’ve decided to save the latest pictures for another post. I also wasn’t planning to include any pictures of flies this time—after all I’ve posted a lot of fly pictures on this site. But I just love the picture below of a fruit fly (family Lauxaniidae). This looks to be the same species that I included in my previous blog about Deas Island, but this is a much better pose. These are such gorgeous little flies!
When I took this last photo I thought I was photographing a mosquito lurking under a leaf. But when I took a closer look at it on the computer I realized that it doesn’t have a long proboscis. I assume therefore that it was a gnat…but if anyone reading this can shed any light on its identification, please leave me a comment!
The monopod made a huge difference for this shoot. Focussing was much easier—when the bugs cooperated of course—and the whole process was much less tiring. But I didn’t use it for all my photography that day. The majority of the pictures I took were of ants, and capturing those photos required me to lie down in the dirt rather than hunt in the bushes. And I think I got some pretty cool photos—I’ll be posting those in the next few days.
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Harvestman: manual exposure (F22 @ 1/60 sec)
Fruit fly and mosquito: manual exposure (F11 @ 1/60 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (manual; ¼ power)