Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Me and My Mantis

"From whence arrived the praying mantis?
From outer space, or lost Atlantis?
glimpse the grin, green metal mug
at masks the pseudo-saintly bug,
Orthopterous, also carnivorous,
And faintly whisper, Lord deliver us."
~Ogden Nash.

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).
Back to the gear and set-up.
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

You have a little something stuck to your mouth... no here, do you want me to get it?  Napkin Please! 1/100sec, f/22, ISO100, 180mm (Click photo to enlarge)

 Ready for the cuteness overload?

Kissy face!!! 1/100sec, f/18, ISO100, 180mm (Click photo to enlarge)
Same image as above, rotated and cropped to show detail. (Click photo to enlarge)