Saturday, June 29, 2013

Northern Cloudywing larva update

In my last post I included photos of a Northern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades) that I am rearing from an egg found in the Klickitat River Canyon.  It is now in the 5th instar and is 24mm long.  I am re-posting the original photo set so you can compare them with the new set.


  1. Hi Caitlin,

    I am an entomologist in Oregon. I am collecting less and less, photographing more and more. Specimens don't travel well, or do well with numerous educational events over time, but photos do.
    Could you post some information on the camera make/model and also the lense(s) you're using to get these wonderful macro shots -- especially those taken in the field? After a lot of research on photographic equipment, I'm still trying to narrow down my photographic options for field macro shots of Arthropoda.

    Also, any suggestions much appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Yes, I've been photographing more/collecting less as well, mostly because my collecting was to build a basic collection of only a few specimens per species (mostly Washington), and because I don't have a lot of room to store more than that. My camera setup is simple:
      Nikon D80 camera
      Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm lens (macro lens)
      Nikon SB-700 Speedlight Flash
      I also have a Nikon 18mm-200mm VR zoom lens that I use for most habitat shots, and it worked quite well for macro-type photos, but when I got the macro lens last year I could really see the difference!
      I've had the camera for close to 8 years now, starting to think I'm about due for a new one, would really like to get the Nikon D300s, but the 5200 is also a great camera for a lower price. I don't have much experience with Canon, the biggest difference from what I've read is the way it processes color. Canon tends to bring out more bluish hues while Nikon tends toward green or yellow, although I haven't noticed much of a difference. Nikons are a little heavier than Canons, but they are slightly cheaper, and Nikon is well known for the quality of their lenses (they are a popular brand for microscopes, etc.).
      The lens is what really matters; you can save a little on the camera body without noticeably lowering the picture quality, but a good lens is essential. A good external flash (like the SB-700) is also very helpful. Even in extremely sunny conditions when you might not think you need it, it allows you to use a faster shutter speed and softens the high contrast from glaring sun. It has taken me some time to learn the best flash-speed (1 second to 1/128 second) and angle (usually tilt it slightly upward and use a diffuser, sometimes tilt it to the side) in different conditions, but the results are well worth it.
      Also, while I do have a tripod (Manfrotto), I almost never use it because bugs move! plus I often get in very awkward places where it just wouldn't work to set up a tripod (like laying in the middle of a road to photograph a puddle-party, or balancing on a rock next to a stream bank). Having a high-quality lens, especially with VR (vibration reduction) really helps in these situations, and most of the time I can't tell the difference between a free-hand shot and one with a tripod.
      Hope this helps!
      oh, and B&H Photography is probably the best place to get your equipment, and they are having a big sale right now through the 4th, big discounts on lenses and flashes if bought with a camera body (add everything to the shopping cart to see the discounts).

    2. something else I just remembered, I know some field-photographers use a monopod instead of a tripod. Something I'd like to try. It's easier to move around, doesn't get in the way as much, and if anything you can use it as a walking stick!