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Suck the Heart Out

Large assassin fly displaying an act of cannibalism by hunting and pinning down a member of its own species and sucking its insides through its mouthpart. Asili...
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Large assassin fly displaying an act of cannibalism by hunting and pinning down a member of its own species and sucking its insides through its mouthpart. Asilidae, the robber fly family.
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Behind The Lens

The photo was taken during an archaeological survey in the rugged terrain of what is pretty much the no man's land between the outskirts of central Israel and the West Bank.
I was hiking during a steaming hot afternoon in a wild area dotted with ancient ruins as part of my former job as a government archaeologist. Other than a fascinating history the area is also rich in wildlife, and while I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the gazelles roaming the terrain it was one of the smaller creatures that caught my attention. An assassin fly (Asilidae) landed on my rucksack's strap pinning down a member of its own species and sucking its insides with its mouthparts. I carefully pointed my lens in a somewhat unconventional position and took a couple of snapshots while allowing the bug to enjoy its earned meal and move on. This was taken on May 27, 2015 at 1:26 PM.
The lighting for this shot was quite challenging since I was in an open terrain with merciless Middle Eastern sun above. I made sure to use my body to the best of my ability in order to get optimal results. In general this photo was taken under spontaneous conditions as the bug crushed into me and used my body to pin down its victim. Just like the assassin fly, I seized the opportunity and photographed the savage and fascinating display of nature with the conditions available to me.
This was shot on a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. No other equipment was involved.
Working as an archaeologist involves plenty of fieldwork, much of it is solo work when not on an organized excavation. During my solo incursions to various terrains I encounter diverse wildlife and I spend time documenting the flora and fauna in the regions I work in. This helps me to get a complete picture of the area which involves both its archaeological sites and the ecological niche they are embedded in. In this regard, I hold a no-favorites approach, and I do not discriminate. I would spend time documenting and learning about every bit of nature, whether it is a small insect, a soaring eagle or a reptile.
To tease out the details of the assassin flies I cropped the image to a square focusing on the raw act of one bug devouring another, slightly brightened the image and sharpened it a bit to give it a final touch in order to define the insect morphology, such as the mouthparts of the fly doing the killing.
In my camera bag
One of the first things I pack is actually a reliable point-and-shoot camera with capable zoom. For this photo it was a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, since then I changed it to a Nikon Coolpix P900. The reason for this is that as an archaeologist I explore plenty of features along the terrain I am hiking. These could be landscape features, ancient architectural features and then there are the wildlife which tend to take you by surprise. During much of my wildlife documentation I would not use an SLR because of the fact that I encounter a variety of animals and the process of changing between different lenses while shooting moving objects at different ranges is not always practical. In addition, I pack lightly and do my best to carry what I need in order to move quickly in the terrain and study it efficiently. In this regard, planning ahead is not always a privilege as sometimes exploration takes the priority.
Packing top-end SLR cameras and lenses for various purposes is of course great. With that being said for people who are on exploration activities which involve more than simply photography and include other technical demands such as researching the archaeological features of a terrain, there are point-and-shoot cameras out there with capable abilities. In this regard, while not using an SLR camera demands certain sacrifices, you also get surprising advantages while using specific cameras. For me, having a capable point-and-shoot camera with a powerful zoom such as the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS or Nikon Coolpix P900 keeps the gear I pack during that day to a minimum or helps me to act quicker when encountering different animals with no planning a head on my part as to what I may encounter in the first place.

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