Macro photography - a bitter truth of killing insects.


Browsing through the facebook, among the various new selfies of your friends and boring game requests you suddenly stumbled upon a beautiful picture. Your finger automatically paused, and your eyes have given that picture a closer look of apraisal.

A beautiful picture of a spider seating on a flower with a water drop on it's head or a group of ants tearing up the limbs of a poor damselfly, may refresh your mood or leave you in a state of awe.

Or if you are an aspiring new photographer, always running after those likes and "wow" comments on facebook, these beautiful pictures always surprised you and you too someday want to take pictures like this.

Then you should think again before pressing the "like" button. Because it becomes now a question of life and death for those poor insects.

Internet is flooded with the macro pictures of insects. Spiders, dragonflies, damselflies are the recent hot topics of photography. Everyone holding a DSLR in hand are after these insects.

Photographing insects are not easy task. They are small, they are hard to find because they are insanely well camoflauged into their habitat.

Though finding a spider is not the main problem but photographing them. They are skitterish. They hardly stay at a place for a second. So approaching insects is a big deal. Someone need years of practice to approach a living insect.

Some photographers take a shortcut here, they just kill the insect to make it still. This is common for spiders. And those the kind photographers, they they don't kill by hand or insecticides, instead they just put the spider or snake into deep fridge. Another practice which is common for dragonflies or damselflies,is to twist their wings or hold the wings tight to prevent them from flying.

Have you ever seen those damselfly images seating on a spiral tendril? Most probably they are set up too. People place damselflies to spiral tendrils and take picture.

But how do you know which picture is natural, made by hour's observation and dedication of a photographer or which is set up, used a dead insect?

I am photographing insect for not less than 10 years. Experience and knowledge teaches me how to find which is what.

For example,

In this picture a brown jumping spider just caught a green jumping spider.

The same spider eating the cathch, this picture is taken after 5 minutes of the previous picture.

Can you see the difference?

In the first picture, as the kill was fresh the legs of the green spider are normally spread but in the second picture the legs of the green spider are curled up.

What's that signify?

Well, a spiders leg doesn't work as human limbs. Their legs are a combination of muscles and body fluid. Hydraulic pressure of the body fluid makes a spider extend their legs. This is why they can jump several times of their body length. Or jump so swiftly.

After death, the hydraulic pressure began to decrease, that is why their legs star to curling up.

So next time when you see a picture of a spider on a flower with curled up legs, you now know that spider is probably dead and placed on the flower.

Body of a spider should always above of the ground, not collapsed, just like the picture above.

Damselflies are often hold by their delicate wings like this and placed on the spiral tendrils for the sake of a pretty picture,

p.c.- wikimedia

This may caused permanent damage to their wing.

I have seen some pictures where photographer twisted the wings of damselfly and threw it among hungry ants.

Damselfly wings are clear, and transparent (depends on the specie), if someone holds the wing then the wing becomes turbid, opaque. Looking at the wing it can be judged that the picture is natural or staged harming the damselfly.

So, my photographer friends, there are two ways of making insect macro images,

1. Kill the insect you want to shoot and place them wherever you want, or twist the wings of a damselfly and throw it to hungry ants, it will certainly save your time and save your energy too.

or,

2. Learn the art of approaching, gather knowledge about your subject and photography. Work hard and live the thrill, it will drain your energy and time but reward you with enormous joy of photography.

Look at the beautiful face of this tiny spider for a couple of seconds, look into the curiosity in it's eyes, look the bending of the legs, look at the hairy details of the body, and now you are free to take your decision.

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