Thursday, August 21, 2008

A few bugs in my studio setup

Hmm … here’s an idea for a photographic niche – studio portraits of insects. Maybe, maybe not.

The north side of my garage has brick halfway up. Where the brick meets siding is a narrow ledge. Placing a black sheet of foam board on that ledge (and using an outdoor light fixture to keep it in place) makes for a dandy little studio for shooting macros. I’ve set it up to shoot various subjects many a time. Being on the north side of the house, the light is always good, no matter what time of day.

I was clearing some brush from my backyard last weekend when I discovered this aging cicada among the twigs and leaves. Cicadas are the bugs that make that eerie whining sound you hear in the trees during July and August here in the Midwest.

Being late August, this guy’s days were numbered, and it was very likely that he had fallen from a tree and was living out his final hours. He stubbornly held on to a decayed branch, and I took several shots from different angles on the ground, but couldn’t quite catch the golden flecks of color on his head and back. Then it hit me – take him to “the studio.”

I set up the black foam board on the ledge and grabbed two cans of spray paint, which I used to hold up the Cicada’s stick. I took a couple of shots on aperture priority (my default) until I found a setting that produced a good exposure. I then switched to manual and locked the camera onto that setting so the black background wouldn’t fool the camera’s meter and I shot away.

The setup allows me to get great pictures and the occasional stare of a neighbor, but really, I think they’re used to seeing me do some strange-looking things with a camera in my hand.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2008 James Jordan.

1 comment:

Wanda said...

How fun to be taken step by step though your process of getting this stunning picture of the Cicada!!

Good job in your little studio!!