Photo Synthesis

Orthodera ministralis

Orthodera ministralis – Garden Mantis (immature)

Melbourne, Australia

Technical details:

Lens: Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens
Body: Canon EOS D60 dSLR
Flash: Canon 550 EX, bounced off white paper above mantid
Settings: ISO 100, f/19, 1/200 sec


  1. #1 Psi Wavefunction
    May 4, 2009

    Cute ‘cockroach’! =D

    (still not over the whole mantids being in Dictyoptera with ‘roaches and termites thing…I thought they were Orthoptera for the longest time >_> )

  2. #2 TEO
    May 4, 2009

    They´re actually very cockroach-like: Elongate, mobile prothorax and coxae (first leg section), thin filiform antennae, big compound eyes, placing of eggs in oothecae (egg cases)… they also share the same type of wing, and there are transitional mantis/roach fossils preserved in amber.

    Pretty interesting relationship methinks!

  3. #3 Anon
    May 4, 2009

    Just curious–how many shots did you take of this cutie? Do you tend to snap away for a bit and examine later, or take a relative few, look some over, and stop when you have some keepers?

    Yes, I am a nosy person.

  4. #4 Alex
    May 4, 2009

    Anon- It’s been a few years so my memory of the shoot is a little fuzzy, but as I recall I did at least a hundred or so exposures. I shoot a few, then check, shoot a few, then check. I move on once I get a couple of keepers, usually.

    For this mantis I tried a variety of compositions, some on a passionflower, some on a lily, some on an iris, some against a plain green backdrop, some close-in, etc. For each setting I shot until I had a few good ones.

  5. #5 Anon
    May 4, 2009


    I think I will start to appreciate nature photography even more now–we normally only get to see the finished product, and it looks so good, it makes one (well me, anyway) kind of overlook the tremendous amount of effort, practice, and skill that goes into these wonderful images.

  6. #6 Alex
    May 4, 2009

    On the other hand, after I took this shot– which was casual and only minimally planned- I spent about 60 more exposures trying to improve on it. Not one was the equal of the first.

  7. #7 Keith
    May 5, 2009


    That photo was not taken at our place:-)

  8. #8 Li'l Innocent
    May 5, 2009

    Crickets are close to roaches, too, but I don’t hold it against them. (It’s difficult for anyone who’s spent part of their impressionable youth in roach-ridden city apartments to be objective about them.)

    When you were photographing the mantis, did it ever exhibit its camouflage behavior of extending its arms straight forward and flattening itself against the stalk it was sitting on? I saw one do this against a cornstalk in my garden once and have never forgotten it. Very effective protective maneuver – if I hadn’t been so close and actually seen the movement, I probably wouldn’t have seen the mantis at all.

  9. #9 Julie Stahlhut
    May 5, 2009

    I’ve always had a soft spot for mantids, ever since I was a little kid growing up in northern Connecticut and terrifying the bigger kids by waving live mature Mantis religiosa and Tenodera sinensis in their faces. 🙂

    It’s amazing how placid they always appear, even when devouring their prey.

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