Sunday, August 05, 2007


There were many things buzzing around a patch of Gallardias and Coreopsis so I attempted to photograph the bugs as they landed and lapped the nectar. Luckily a few were cooperative. As I looked closer I spotted a flower that looked strange, with color where there should only have been the reddish eye spot. It turned out to be a camouflaged caterpillar. All this activity in about 2 square feet.

Bee or fly? Looks more like a fly mimicking a bee.

This is a much smaller fruit fly? with the same black and yellow markings as the larger bee/fly above.

A (Carmen Miranda) caterpillar disguising itself as a flower. It has cut pieces of the petals and stuck it on top of its body to act as camouflage.

Green bee. Probably a native bee.

Here are more pictures taken at an earlier time. These were very tiny. The spider must have been no more than an 1/8" wide. The green-eyed fly...just a speck.


Blogger DeeMom said...


5:51 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Lovely macros!

6:21 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi deemom,
Thanks. The opportunity presented itself and I took it.


Hi Sandy,
Thanks. I didn't think I would get any acceptable photos because the flowers and bugs were in full sun and it was difficult to focus via the LCD on the point and shoot camera. I could barely make out the image of the bug as the strong light washed out the image and I just shot as many pictures as I could hoping some would be in focus or the bug would hold still enough to take the pictures. I used the Raynox add on macro lens which requires the telephoto be extended to the max to prevent vignetting. The extension of the telephoto effectively cancels the autofocus so I have to focus moving the camera back and forth until the image becomes clear. Not the ideal setup but it can take some remarkable macros.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Obviously you're the right person to own this advanced kind of equipment, Ki - you have a garden full of interesting things, you pay attention and you let us see the photos! Thank you especially for the close look at the caterpiller disguised with petals.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

3:04 PM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Oh wow... what fun pictures. I would never have imagined that a caterpillar would camouflage itself with petals--what a cool sight!

3:19 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Annie,
Who would imagine a worm having the intelligence to use materials? I just skimmed an article - scientists are re-examining intelligence i.e. tool use in lower animals. I think birds are the lowest forms on the list that showed tool use and thus maybe intelligence. They are considering if this is "real" thinking (conceptualization) or mimicking. Now if a worm can figure out that it can use stuck on pieces of petals to hide from predators this must be a worm analogue of genius.:)

Hi Kim,
I would never have seen the funny looking flower if it hadn't been for all the bees and flies buzzing around the flowers. It was one of those flying insects that landed on the weird flower which brought my attention to the worm when the flower moved in an unnatural way. Funny how things are brought to your consciousness sometimes. I hope someone named this the Carmen Miranda caterpillar.

5:49 PM  
Blogger joey said...

Amazing photos!

7:05 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Wow, those are great shots! I was going to ask for technical details, but you've already provided them. I'm debating whether to buy a macro lens or a telephoto. I think I'd have better luck with dragonflies by keeping my distance from them and letting the optics provide the close view.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks Joey,
I was lucky I came upon all the activity around the flowers and doubly lucky that some of the bugs were immobile long enough for me to take the photos. Thanks for stopping by.


Hi Entangled,
From what I read, if you have a DSLR you can buy a fairly long macro lens one that will enable you to shoot from about 3-4 feet away but it's very expensive, probably much more than a telephoto. If you only intend to shoot things from a distance probably the telephoto would be a better bet but both require a tripod or at least a monopod which may be better for fast moving object. Me, I hate to be encumbered by unwieldy equipment. I've used two skinny bamboo poles as a brace which is fast to set up and works fairly well because I tend to move front to back when hand holding the camera as opposed to side to side. A camera with image stabilizing is great. I just bought a tiny camera with an image stabilizer and I find I can take much fewer blurred pictures when using either the macro or telephoto features.

A cheap way to get into macros is to buy a macro reverse ring adapter (cheap) which is essentially an adapter ring which fits on the filter threads in front of your SLR lens and enables you to attach another lens backward onto the existing lens. This gives you a very powerful macro lens for a pittance since you can use any cheap lens you can buy at Ebay or you can even use a film camera lens that you no longer use. The longer the front lens, the less magnification. A 50mm lens will give you about a 7-8 power magnification a 28-35mm lens will be almost unusable because the DOF (depth of field) becomes an issue. You can read about my limited experiments with this set up on my much neglected

Micro Macro blog.

The Raynox add on lens is a very cheap way to get into macros. The lens is of high quality and color corrected so you don't get added purple fringing. B&H Photo sells it for $43.95 Raynox DCR-250. You want the DCR-250 not the DCR-150. You can probably find it cheaper by doing a web search but B&H is very reputable. The lens just clips onto your existing lens if it has filter ring threads.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Ki, thanks for the tips. I know what you mean about bulky equipment being a hassle. I thought I was going to get into digiscoping birds last spring, but by the time I got the scope focused and the camera set up the subject was long gone. All the bells and whistles they've added to cameras these days are great, but sometimes I miss my old manual focus film SLR - except for the film part.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Even with a fairly light handheld 10x zoom camera with 1.7x extension giving 17x zoom it was difficult to photograph birds...extremely frustrating. They are just too fast moving. I can imagine the nightmare of using a spotting scope with camera attached. I think you need to set up a blind to get up close so you don't need the extra, bulky equipment. I too miss using my film SLR but I like the LCD monitors on the digicams. I was into the picture too much, viewing the scene through a viewfinder. Much easier framing using the LCD. Also much better photo processing since you can do it to suit yourself and not rely on the uneven mechanical processing at the local drugstore.

Have you tried using the Digiscope setup on insects/butterflies?

4:41 AM  
Blogger kate said...

I love the pictures with the incredible orange and pink colouring... they look like a painting with a green-eyed fly and a spider superimposed on them.

A Carmen Miranda butterfly - now that is lovely.

When we stop and take the time to look closely at what is going on around us, it is truly amazing.

I don't understand much of the technical camera info, but I'm glad you do ... your pics are gorgeous!

9:57 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Neat photo's...the close up of the spider ~really cool!! Enjoyed my visit!

2:04 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
It does rather look like fields of oil wash on canvas. These were the actual colors of the flowers the bug and spider were sitting on. It only appears as patches of color because the small depth of field of the macro lens blurs anything beyond about .5 cm. The only processing I added was sharpening. I've seen some incredible photos on the Flickr macro site. I have a long way to go but eventually I hope I can take some photos that are up to those standards. Thanks for the encouraging comments.

Hi Catherine,
I love the spider too. Those four eyes and jaunty look are endearing. I usually don't like spiders but this one is special. Maybe it was because it was no larger than a small grain of rice. Thanks for stopping by. I took a quick look at your interesting macros and will stop by for a more careful look soon. See ya.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

Wow these are great. Point and Shoot cameras are so amazing to me. I do like the fact that mine can also shoot in a 3:2 aspect. I use a 60mm macro lens that wasn't too bad price wise but think you really need the 105mm to do insects. I enjoyed hearing about your photography rig, bamboo and all.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

ops, I meant to add that those first three are Hoover Flies. They are a beneficial insect.

I guess there is no way to edit a comment.

6:55 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Chris,
The cameras are very small and can shoot at 3 aspect ratios, 4:3, 3:2 (35mm film) and 16:9 widescreen. Amazing how much technology they can incorporate in such a small thing. The FX01 has the added benefit of having an equivalent wide angle lens of 28mm which is rare in a digital point and shoot. But the best thing about these cameras is the OIS. I'm not very steady especially with arms outstretched and I can even see the camera moving when I breathe or camera shake with every heartbeat.

Thanks for the fly ID. I didn't think it looked like a bee. In any case I think bees have more wings and different eyes? I do love those three little extra eyes between the larger ones on top of the head though.

I'll have to post a photo of my bamboo pole rig one day. I just cross it front to back and hold the cross and camera with my left hand and press the shutter button with my right. Easier to do than described and quite effective. I tried using two skinny square poles but they were too rough and did not slide into place easily so I'm back to using bamboo. Looks weird, the neighbors must get a good laugh. To them I'm weird enough as it is.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Oops wrong post. These were taken with the Canon A620 not either the Panasonic FX01 or FX3.

7:24 PM  
Blogger MrBrownThumb said...

Some great captures you got there.

The first bee is my favorite second would have to be the hover fly looking bug.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thanks Mr. Brownthumb. Not consistently clear as your bug photos but I'm working on it.

4:58 PM  

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