I’m part of a team of improv friends who regularly take part in an annual New Zealand 48hr film competition. This year’s event was cancelled, but then the organisers did a big “wait, hey” and decided to run a version where everyone is confined to filming in their own houses. Starting point is a random genre (we got SciFi) and some elements that need to be included, the result has to be between 1 minute and 3 minutes long. It was, as always, silly stressful mostly fun. After some distributed filming, shonkily edited together with some bad sci-fi effects, we ended up with a 2 1/2 minutes of weird fly-point of view story. The “flycam” view totally justifies the shaky camera work. The actual film can’t be shared anywhere until after the judging in a couple of weeks (there are over 2,000 entries to be officially watched!), but here’s the poster, reusing an old macro photo of mine.
Well, I won a part of a bigger thing, the macro segment of The 2018 Sigma D-Photo Amateur Photographer of the Year. I’ve not won anything like this before, possibly because I’ve timidly not entered any infrared macro photos in any competitions. There’s even a nice prize lens coming my way.
So check this months D-Photo magazine, turn to page 42 and, look, it’s my butterfly, among some other darn fine photos all plucked from the 13,000+ entries in the competition overall this year.
This little bee’s grooming routine on my hotel balcony was like some kind of impressively athletic workout.
35mm macro lens, IR modified camera, f/9 1/250 iso 320
And here, a much less elegant pose
All from the Butterfly house at Melbourne zoo, shot using the IR mod camera with a 590nm filter and 35mm lens. It’s mid winter in Australia at the moment, and even in a hothouse the butterflies were a little sparse and looking a little ratty. I quite like the tattered look.
This little garden cutie (approx 3mm or so long) kept moving its head from side to side to get a good look at me. And then, being a baby jumping spider, it would sort of sproink sideways, only to stop and look around at me again. Bad for the taking of photos, but really rather entertaining to watch.
The spikiest little caterpillar is now . . . the hairiest little butterfly.
There’s a late summer feeding frenzy in the garden at the moment, as this year’s crop of monarch caterpillars do their competitive best to turn into butterflies. This is indeed a very hungry caterpillar, and if not quite as adorable a gourmand as the Eric Carle version certainly as ravening.
Also, if you’ve ever wondered how a caterpillar manages to cling on while dangling upside down on a windy day . . . here’s a closeup of the hairy hooks on the bottom of their prolegs (the ones at the back), which I did not know until I just now looked it up are called “crochets”.
Spike here was about 15mm long, and sitting in the middle of a plank on the deck. I couldn’t get the camera low enough for a great angle, and hey, I wasn’t going to touch it. A cautious attempt to encourage it on to a leaf with another leaf just resulted in a small bidibid shaped ball of caterpillar rolling around on the deck. So, sorry, this is not the best photo composition ever, but it is a view of one of the most interestingly strange minibeasts currently in my garden, the yellow admiral caterpillar, with this one likely a little lost on a trek to find more nettles. Photo with the 4:1 20mm lens.
This morning I was trying to capture an image of the mouthparts on this tiny 3-4mm monarch caterpillar, using my ridiculous new 4.5:1 lens, to see if I could. I’ve almost nearly figured out the flash settings needed, and this time almost almost had the minuscule in-focus zone right when some sort of bug started messing things up by moving around just in front of the lens. Pulling back a bit, it turned out we were being photobombed by a much faster and tinier lava of some different species. It seemed to just want to rear up in front of the front of the lens and wave about, firmly refusing to hold a pose long enough for a decent identifying photo.
Amusing, so long as the intruder doesn’t turn out to be the harbinger of some kind of swan plant mothy doom. I hope at least some of the new crop of monarchs make it to the butterfly stage this summer. Since I have this new lens and all.
20mm, F11, 1/100, iso 400
When a new camera lens arrives you just have to put it on your camera and go take photos. The only creature in my garden willing to pose for my 20mm Zhongyi 4.5x super macro budget lens was this particularly dozy fly. Possibly the 160 km hours whipping through town at the moment may have moved on many of the other potential subjects. I’ll need to do a bit of experimenting . . . but so far I like it. This shot at ISO 1000, f5.6, 1/200 sec.