Blurry steps ahead

A katydid nymph on a anemone

A katydid nymph on a anemone
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5 Comments | Report
Timko_pics May 21, 2015
Great Colors. And interesting little bug. :-)
trexkamal PRO+
trexkamal July 04, 2016
Nice capture of Katydid
garymintz PRO
garymintz March 07, 2017
Great capture. Love bug pics
ashwinikadagodu May 31, 2017
TruLifePhotoz September 26, 2017
Hey lookie here! Apparently this is the very first photo I "liked" on this site. And still very beautiful! Thank you for sharing and taking the time to go into detail about the shot!!!

Behind The Lens

Most of the pictures I take feature the insect life from my small garden. After roughly seven years of macro photography I know the place intimately well. I know where what blooms when and what insect can be found at a particular time of the year. This photo is no different. The nymph katydid featured in this picture is around in May and so is the blue anemone. The katydid are tiny at that time of year, around 2-4 mm, which is wonderful as you can't actually see the rest of my garden in the frame, just the anemone.
As a full-time student I do not have many opportunities for photography during the optimal daylight moments (early morning/evening). Add to that my South-West facing garden and nice macro photography seems like a hopeless endeavour. However, at this particular day I was home early from university. It was around two in the afternoon in mid-May when I finally could combine the lovely green katydids, which my experience told me should be somewhere in my garden, with the blooming blue anemones.
The lighting in this picture is an odd one as it almost distractingly white. I have favoured taking pictures in the shade from the very beginning. In many ways this photograph is no different than others I have taken. What made this picture stand out from previous attempts at the combination katydid-anemone is the bright midday sunlight that shone through the fence behind the flower. These rays made me decide this anemone would provide the best background for the katydid of all the flowers present. The light gives the flower background depth that sometimes is achingly absent in my other in-the-shade photographs. While the sunrays should backlit the katydid, the little fella is so small that the light shines right through it. These effects caused by the light made me decide to use a small depth of field. This evens out the background to colours that at several points can be identified as a flower petal. It also places the insect in the focus of the viewer.
I am almost ashamed to say that I used (and still use) a Nikon D70s. A camera that has been ancient for an awfully long time now. It has some limitations, but I wouldn't know them as I haven't used any other camera. Anyway, the lens I used is the wonderful Tamron 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro. It can be a bit cumbersome when starting out (it's heavy and has a slow focus in combination with my camera) but I love it to bits. The colours and detail it captures are wonderful and you can get really close to your subjects. Apart from those two, I didn't use anything else. Well, a breathing technique to avoid motion blurring caused by my own breathing.
I am not the kind of photographer who plans everything (or anything) in advance. I knew there were katydids in my garden and I had noticed that the blue anemones were blooming. Having read some books on colours and their combinations, I knew there would be a lovely contrast between the purple/blue of the flower and the green of the katydid. That knowledge was the basis of my little photo-shoot. I caught a katydid and placed it on the anemone and started taking pictures. As with all animal photography, you really have to wait and see what the animal gives you. This little fella kept on walking on the flower. So I hoped to catch him when he was trying to cross from petal to petal. I love to capture insects in motion as it, for me at least, makes it easier to identify with it.
This picture is a straight out of camera shot. I didn't shoot in RAW at the time and my general camera JPEG post-processing was in a 'cloudy' setting. This makes the picture more red, which does a wonderful job with the blues and greens.
In my camera bag
I found out I really liked macro photography very early on (the day I bought my camera) in my amateur photographership. This has lead me to buy the macro lens I always carry with me. Apart from that, I also always carry my 50mm Nikon F/1.8 lens with me for landscape and people photography. I do also own a Tamron 18-200mm lens with a nice polarization filter but the lens has really had its day by now and I rarely use it.
Whenever you read about macro photography three tips are always given. These are: 1. Always use a tripod. 2. Use a high f-value. 3. Take pictures in the early morning and late afternoon/evening. My advice? Try to ignore them every once in a while. Me being clumsy has repelled me from the usage of a tripod. I found I quite liked the freedom and movement it gave me. Macro photography can sometimes be a bit static, especially in the composition department. The absence of a tripod gives you the freedom to change your composition with the movement of your subject. The same goes for the high f-values and the time of day you should take macro photographs. A high f-value lowers your shutter speed considerably which excludes taking pictures in the shade. If you lower the f-value you're not only able to take pictures in suboptimal light conditions (i.e. every moment of the day), you also gain a less distracting background. This makes your subject stand out (if it is in focus, which can be a challenge with a low f-value and without a tripod) especially if the background is a flower with big single-colour petals and your subject a colourful insect (ladybug, katydid). In other words, my advice is to just grab your camera and find an insect to photograph. Don't bother with tripods or special times of day, just try to make a nice picture of a small animal on a flower or a leaf. That's all I do most of the time.

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