Friday Beetle Blogging: Glischrochilus Sap Beetle

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Glischrochilus sanguinolentus
Bell Smith Springs, Illinois

Just for you guys, here are some portraits of a colorful sap beetle in the family Nitidulidae I encountered in southern Illinois last weekend. It's a charming little insect, especially the cute, clubby antennae.

The challenge with shooting shiny insects such as Glischrochilus is lighting the insect without glare. The back of this animal is like a mirror, and if I were to just use the available sunlight or a bare camera flash all I'd get is a blown-out spot reflection of the light source with the rest of the animal appearing dark and featureless. So the trick is to transform a point source of light and spread it out over a large area so that the reflection is smooth and even. For these shots I used a couple pieces of mylar diffusion sheets underneath a twin flash, like so.

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Incidentally, it happens to be my birthday today. Thirty-seven. I'm now legal for...um. Yeah. What do they let you do at 37? I'm hoping it's a second cup of coffee.


photo details: Canon EOS 7D camera

Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens

ISO 100, f/13, 1/250sec

diffused twin flash

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Happy Birthday Alex!

I'm not sure what they let me do when I hit 37, it was 13 years ago. I suspect I got a tiny bit more sympathy when I was complaining about aches and pains :-).

I'm really enjoying your posts, the photos are phenomenal and the photography tips are too! Keep up the great work.

Happy Birthday! And, by coincidence, my youngest daughter has the same birthday as you (she's 2).

Looking at your diffuser setup, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to permanently mount some spring clips on the flash heads to simplify attaching sheets of paper to them? Maybe this could even be suggested to Canon as a standard feature.

Happy birthday!

I'm trying like heck to remember what I did on my 37th birthday, but that was a hecka long time ago!

Have you figured out how to adapt a diffuser setup like that to the 100mm lens? The longer working distance really makes it hard to rig up something between the flash heads and the subject.

Happy Birthday! I don't know what else you can do at 37, but I hope you're allowed to keep on taking photos like these! Great shots and excellent job working around those shiny scutums!

Happy Birthday!

I love your willingness to share pictures of your setups. Brilliant, for those of us just starting out.

By Andrea J. (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

felicissimus dies natalis tibi (Very happy birthday to you)! My birthday was on the 4th.

Thanks guys!

Ted- I normally bounce the flash off something for the 100mm, rather than diffusing it. So I'll have someone hold a white poster board over the subject, or sometimes I tape printer paper to the flash and point it parallel to the subject.

You may now legally wear a fedora and a houndstooth suit. Congratulations, you really have made it!

By Joshua King (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

Alex you 37 in a couple years you will pass me

Happy Birthday alex

By Jack Jumper (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

Feliz cumpleaños!

Happy belated birthday, Alex!

By Julie Stahlhut (not verified) on 14 Jun 2010 #permalink