Saturday, July 21, 2012

Freddie the Mantis

This week I have just a few pictures, which I have already uploaded (these were taken in September last year). I had shot these when I was travelling with National Geographic in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil.

No, actually it was in my living room (on the basil plant, where it had really good camouflage). We named it Freddie (after the Elm street murderer) and I really wanted to keep it... only it turned out that mantises (mantii?) tend to get aggressive when you poke a lens and flash at them...

I did always want to take pictures of bugs with all the right equipment: macro lens, flash and tripod. I just never happen to have these things around when I see some interesting critters. Since Freddie was kind enough to come to my own living room, I made a few good shots before he started climbing the camera and jumping me (he was about half an inch tall, but really aggressive! ).

All these pics (except one) were shot at f/18 to get everything in focus and 1/160 to reduce ambient. ISO 400 because I didn't want my flash to work hard at such a small aperture (now that I think about it, if I were holding the flash right out of the frame I could probably get a lot of light at such short distance without the flash ever breaking a sweat).

I don't remember exactly, but for some of these I held the flash above or to his side. Having a tripod means you have two hands to do that (and release the shutter using a remote).

This one was at f/22 and 1/200, with the flash on camera. having the tripod and everything allowed me to take several shots of Freddie on the same background, so I played around with Photoshop a little to double the insect action.

I think this one is my favorite. Pretty sure it was with flash on-camera (see the reflections in the leaves). I'll miss you, you psychotic insect murderer, you...

This little encounter really makes me want to shlep around all my gear for insect work outside as well. Probably won't happen until next September when the weather starts to cool off... 

Hopefully I will have some more recent work for you next week.

Comments and suggestions are welcome...


  1. mantises rule.. so awesome.. I also had one sitting at the top of my TV antenna for a few days, until we decided to move it to the Basil plant :)
    Take more insect photos! they're great!

  2. I will... but only if the insects come to me... I'm not leaving the A/C for anything right now!