Macro Mating Revisited: Guest article by Steve Russell
It’s been almost two years since I last wrote about shooting bugs in the act of procreation, and you know what? They’re STILL doing it! Right out in the open in public parks and backyards. This time around, though, I have more macro experience behind me and I’m better equipped to shoot them when I find them.
My first choice for a lens on my 5D Mark II is my Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens, but if the bugs are more than about 2” long or are skittish when I get too close, then I’ll use my Tamron 90mm 1:1 macro lens to easily get them both in the frame and keep a safe distance. My Canon MT-24EX Macro Twin Flash is indispensible because the happy couples tend to move and shooting them at 1/200 second with the TTL flash usually is enough to freeze motion. If it’s sunny outside I still use the flash and try to shade my subjects by standing between them and the sun. Tripods are usually useless because of the bugs’ movement and awkward access, so shooting handheld with Live View (with flash) to focus is almost always the way to go.
Despite the best preparation and equipment it’s often just dumb luck finding and capturing a well-focused and well-lit pair of mating bugs. Still, the places to look are in the grasses (i.e., the butterflies), on a leaf (i.e., the red-eyed flies), in a bush (i.e., the orange crane flies), or inside a flower (i.e., the ladybugs). All of the pairs in the images I’m showing were surprises, but the more you look the more you find.