Tricks of the Trade

Myrmecos

Category archives for Tricks of the Trade

For those of you accessible to central Illinois, I will be hosting a free insect photography workshop next Sunday at the University of Illinois Pollinatarium.  The workshop is offered in celebration of the 3rd annual National Pollinator Week. Details are as follows: Insect Photography Workshop Free to the public 2:00 pm, June 28th, 2009 at…

The importance of aperture

Among the least understood technical aspects of photography, at least for novices, is aperture.  Yet aperture has profound effects on the resulting image.  Consider the following series of photos, each taken with a macro setup of an MP-E lens on a Canon dSLR camera, focused at the foremost tip of an ant head head shot…

A public appearance

I’ll be giving an hour-long seminar on insect photography this coming Monday, February 2nd, as part of the University of Illinois Ecology and Evolutionary Biology “Ecolunch” series.  Here are the details: Alex Wild at Ecolunch “Insect Photography: A How To For You Too” *** February 2, 12-1pm 176 Burrill Hall 407 S Goodwin Ave University…

Black backgrounds in macro photography?

Dalantech over at the No Cropping Zone writes: From time to time I see people argue about the backgrounds in macro images, and about how dark backgrounds don’t look natural –whatever the heck that means. Seriously what’s natural about macro photography? Do you see all the detail in a bee’s compound eye or the tiny…

The Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x Macro Lens

Only one lens can take this shot If you’ve paid attention to insect photography over the past decade, you’ll likely have noticed that a single lens, Canon’s MP-E 1-5x macro, has come to dominate the market.  Every professional insect photographer I know owns one, and many of the dedicated amateurs do as well.  Indeed, some…

The wingless hangingfly

I lived in California until a few years ago, and one thing I enjoyed about the Golden State was the unique insect fauna, full of bizarre and relictual creatures.  One of the oddities was the wingless hangingfly, a leggy mecopteran that lurks in the coastal grasslands. The insect above was photographed indoors.  I made a…

Flea

I don’t ordinarily hang around animal carcasses.  But every now and again I’ll brave a fresh roadkill to shoot the parasites as they jump ship from the cooling body.  Fleas and lice are fascinating creatures, and as they are hardly ever photographed alive I can capture some unique images just by staking out a common…

Is it ok to crop a photo?

In an earlier discussion on the merits of megapixels, commentator and snail guru Aydin notes: Megapixel counts matter if you need to crop out large sections of an image & still need to retain enough pixels for a large enough print. To illustrate Aydin’s point, I’ve taken a full photo of an Australian Monomorium nest…

Photo Technique: Working With Ants

If you’ve ever spent time photographing ants the above shot will look familiar: off-frame and out of focus. Because ants are small and speedy, they are among the most difficult insects to photograph. Just capturing an active ant somewhere in the frame can be regarded as an achievement, never mind the more aesthetic concerns of…

Making the Cover

The smallest insect I’ve ever photographed made the cover of the scientific journal Genetics this week. Encarsia pergandiella, an aphelinid wasp not even a millimeter long, was the subject of a study by Perlmann, Kelly, and Hunter documenting the reproductive consequences of infection by bacterial parasite. The wasp lab is downstairs from ours, so it…