The Bugs are Back! Guest Article By Steve Russell
The Bugs are Back
After my usual winter hiatus from bug-art photography, I dusted off my 65mm (Canon MP-E 65mm macro) and 90mm (Tamron macro VC) lenses and headed back to the park. What’s new this year is that I upgraded to a 5D Mark III camera, got a Hoodman Loupe (and elastic band to hold it on), and I start the season with lessons learned from last year’s shooting including how to shoot into a cloud-filtered setting sun with, of course, my trusty MT-24EX Macro Twin Lite Flash.
Dance flies made their usual debut at the flowering of the Oregon Grape bushes, but this year I spotted a first for any species I’ve ever shot: a pair of dance flies mating while the female simultaneously feasted on a just-caught fly. Damselflies emerged earlier than I’ve ever seen them and within the first few days I witnessed two of them caught in the fangs of spiders that are always lurking amongst the grasses. I also made my usual quota of one or two focused images per year of the most elusive fly around (orange and yellow with eyes in the back of its head) as I followed it bouncing around from one brief grass-stop to another, while getting off one quickly-composed handheld shot if I was lucky before it flew again.
My Mark III performed beautifully, although the move of the magnification button to the left of the LCD screen (from the top right of the camera on the Mark II) is infinitely more difficult to operate when I need my left hand to hold and steady the lens. It also takes a little longer for the LCD image to refresh after a shot and activates again only after I depress the shutter button half way. Maybe it’s just a matter of adjusting something in the camera. I hope so. I’m also experimenting more with high magnification handheld shooting at 4X and even 5X with my 65mm lens, and although there is a high rate of failure unless the conditions are absolutely perfect, the payoff is amazing in terms of detail.
The bugs are back and with them another season of endless opportunities to capture these tiny monsters in artistic compositions, with complimentary backgrounds, in ever-increasing detail while they’re doing instinctively dramatic things.
Let the shooting begin.