mostly small, and a surprising number of them want to avoid being eaten.
These two factors lead to one of the greatest problems facing insect
photographers: finding your subjects. Some insects such as Monarch
butterflies are deliberately colored to be highly visible, in order to
warn would-be predators that they taste noxious; however, most insects
rely on concealment and flight to escape their enemies, so you need good
powers of observation to find them. If you're walking through an area
with trees, or even lots of leafy plants, then you'll soon realize that
it's like looking for a lot of needles in a huge haystack. If you walk
at normal speed, then you'll miss at least 90% of what's out there, so
it makes very good sense to slow right down. If there's interesting
habitat on both sides of a path you're walking down, then concentrate on
just one side at a time, and you'll probably see more than if you split
your time between both sides.
Here are some specific hints for photographing different varieties of insects:
butterflies are very sensitive to movement and will fly away if
approached too quickly. They seem to be most sensitive immediately after
they land, so if you see a butterfly land, wait 30 or 60 seconds before
slowly moving towards it. However, if the butterfly lands on a flower or
on scat, then it's probably pre-occupied with feeding, and you can
approach it more easily.
two types of dragonfly: those that are very difficult to photograph, and
those that are impossible to photograph! Since they hunt by sight,
dragonflies are very sensitive to motion, and will fly away as you try
to get close, making them difficult to photograph. And then some
dragonflies fly all day long without landing, making them next to
impossible to photograph, though not totally impossible!
Different spider species vary in their tolerance to approaching people. Many orb weavers, like giant wood spiders, have very poor eyesight and are totally unfazed by human approach, whereas jumping spiders, which hunt by sight, will usually retreat to the rear side of a leaf when you come close.
Text by Richard Seaman (www.richard-seaman.com)
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