On Friday afternoon I spent a couple of happy hours rediscovering my macro ‘eye’ by photographing bees on cherry blossom. The light was bright and unpromising but I found a spot in the shade of a cherry tree where I could capture something of the softness and delicacy of the blossom. I am not sure who was happier, me or the bustling bees.
Continuing my campaign to convince certain people that bugs can be pretty, here are two images of a psocid, commonly known as a bark louse. Psocids are very small, and easily overlooked. This little louse was the star of a post way back in Autumn 2012, but for some reason I omitted these pictures that time. As ever with my insect photography, the images are as much about the background as the bug itself.
A shot from October that I had overlooked. Lacewings appear delicate but are formidable predators of aphids. According to my Collins Complete Guide to British Insects, ‘the larvae of some species camouflage themselves with the dead skins of their prey’ (p.106). I thought it was pretty, toning with the autumn colour of my dogwood tree. Lacewings look amazing in flight; a photographic challenge for this year perhaps…
Cropped for those who like their bugs up close and personal
It’s been a while since I posted a bug shot. Well, at least a couple of weeks, which is a long bug-holiday for Focused Moments! These are shots from 2010, found today while trying to clear some space on my hard drive. I recently heard someone describe dragonfly faces as scary but I think they’re rather cute; they always look to me as if they are smiling.
f.13, 1/80, ISO 400, 100mm
Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.
This bizarre creature is a lace bug, probably stephanitis rhododendri, which is bad news for the rhododendrons and azaleas in my garden. Or it might be stephanitis takeyai, which is bad news for the pieris in my garden. So it is bad news for me as a gardener either way! I don’t know why it was posing in my sumac tree instead of one of its preferred meals, but I thought the colours worked rather nicely.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not? -Kung Fu, Pilot episode (1972) (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)
A common approach with insect photography is to zoom in close, sometimes very close, to show the details not normally noticed by the naked eye. Sometimes it’s nice, however, to show the insect in a wider view, perhaps because it has settled on a particularly pretty flower or because the photographer wants to show the insect’s habitat. I think I come at my insect photography with the eye of an aspiring landscape photographer. I naturally tend to situate my insect subjects in a wider setting, where the background is as important as the insect. For me, although the top shot is pleasing, I prefer the version below, because I enjoy the background as much as I do the bee. In this last image, the bee provides a focal point, a starting and finishing place for the viewer’s eye that, hopefully, stops the picture becoming simply a ‘wallpaper’ image. But, for me, the real impact of this image is the gentle, muted colours of the out of focus border. What do you think?