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Mantis



Female Chinese Mantis. Nikon D4, Sigma 180mm f-2.8, Rogue Flashbender. Handheld

Female Chinese Mantis. Nikon D4, Sigma 180mm f-2.8, Rogue Flashbender. Handheld
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Contest Finalist in Insects And Critters Photo Contest
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1 Comment | Report
starting PRO+
 
starting April 03, 2017
This is great!! I have tried and tried to get a picture of the praying manthis--I've gotten a couple of good ones but can't get them out of the program thery're in!! This is magnifient
Rob_Lopshire PRO+
Rob_Lopshire April 04, 2017
Thanks, we get a lot of them here. Olders ones will stick around for photos...yougers ones will flee from the camera

Behind The Lens

Location
Photographed this beauty right outside our photo studio on Sept 25 2015 in Hunterdon County New Jersey (USA).
Time
About 9:30am I was heading out to my truck to leave and do some errands, I opened the door to climb in and I felt something hit my arm. She landed on me and crawled around for quite a bit, she was completely fascinated with crawling all over me....up the arm, onto the neck, around to my back and on to the top of my head. I gently escorted her to the tailgate of my truck then ran inside to and grab my gear. She waited for my return in the same spot I left her, she headed towards me again to climb aboard. I moved her to a few spots to capture some shots, first shots were her on my truck, she immediately re-gained interest in me, the camera or her reflection in the lens...she proceeded to examine the scene by crawling on every bit of my gear. Fearing she would lose interest I moved her to a set of white plastic milk crate stacking/organizers I had sitting out side my garage (reason for the white studio look). Even after I moved her to the top of the crates she waited around for me to set the shot up, when I started making some photos she figured is was a good time to groom herself...not sure if she was cleaning her mandibles or her toes. Maybe she had a big meal and was picking out some of the lovely bug bits from her mouth, mantises are a voracious and beneficial predator in the insect world. We get quite a bit of them here at the studio, I watched a female eat a large group of hornets right out of a nest in a short amount of time...snagged them right out one by one and devoured every last one of them Mmm Mmm Mmm Crunchy! They also happen to be nature's little fashion models...they love to pose and check out cameras, this pertains to the adult females... adult males are a bit skittish and the young usually don't like to stick around for anything (in this area anyway).
Lighting
This all took place in the driveway which was completely in the shade which would have been fine for a bunch of shots but I know bringing out my speed-light would give me the light I like with a lot of my insect work.
Equipment
I used my Nikon D4 with Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens. For the most part I usually shoot most all my macro starting at aperture f/16 but because the mantis is quite lengthy I set to f/18 or f/22. You really need to play with your angles and perspective when capturing them. For the most part they move pretty slow so 1/100 to 1/125sec shutter speed works well. ISO I had at 100. It was hand held for this as I was changing positions with her movements and the space was limited. Nothing shows a mantis personality more than their big beautiful eyes so getting a nice catch light in the peepers is crucial for us with the Praying mantis or any insect really. Had the Nikon SB910 speedlight attached on camera with a Rogue FlashBender
Inspiration
This was pretty much a impromptu session with her...the mantis is probably one of my favorite insects to photograph and just a big fan of them in general. I guess if I had a spirit or totem animal I would hope it was the mantis...looking back my very first encounter with a praying mantis as a young child it was a similar experience. Walking near my home and suddenly had one land smack in the middle of my chest and staring right at me inches from face...I remember the racing of my heart from the sudden surprise but almost as fast as the shocking large bug encounter happened the curiosity and respect was created by meeting such a beautiful creature or maybe it was just the big puppy dog eyes looking up at me ;)
Editing
Straight forward post work, sharpness, clarity, a little punch in the color and brightness. Bit of cropping and rotating as she changed angles quite a bit.
In my camera bag
my favorite body to shoot with is my Nikon D4 with my Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 attached probably 80% of the time as our business specializes in commercial and promotional photography. My days off I throw on my Sigma 180mm f/2.8 and go bug hunting. Other gear that I keep handy is my Sigma 24-70mm, SB910 speedlight, 3 Legged Thing Frank tripod w/ Airhed3 ball head, a pair of PocketWizard PLUSIII Transceivers and the usual bag filler made up of cables, batteries, spare memory cards and so on.
Feedback
For macro work we prefer a dedicated macro lens, the 180mm gives a nice working distance for the little critters...not only as they are a bit skittish sometimes but some can harm you. Be extra careful with biting and stinging insects, some can get agitated, so know what you're shooting. We photograph a lot of bees and hornets but we shoot them on very cool mornings when they are moving on the slow side and have difficulty flying.

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