Monday, October 17, 2011

Commenting on one of the pics of a spider that I clicked, a dear friend asked what is it with me and with certain kinds of arthropods. Another dear friend commented that I am a bug, which is not far off the target. However, I think that arthropods, in-spite of their strong limbs and ability to fly, need some backing from me.
Photographing arthropods is fun. It is a very good pastime, and one can spend the entire day searching for insects, creeping up to them slowly, photographing them till Swift Tuttle hits Earth and never get bored. Part of the challenge lies in the fact that peering into a small display, one never realizes if one has nailed the insect or not, or is the insect's bottom in focus rather than the lovely eyes of the lady (which proves that eyes need not resemble a lake to be pretty, thereby shattering the box in which certain poets find themselves confined). Another part of the challenge is to creep up to them without disturbing them. Some insects are easier to creep up to, some are more difficult.
That being said, photographing insects is somewhat easier than other forms of photography. One doesn't have to think much about composition much; with such an interesting subject, any way a photo is clicked, it will always be appealing. Of course, masters in this art wouldn't agree with me, but I'm sure my readers will. They will also agree that the masters like Thomas Shahan get astounding results, and my results are nothing more than average in comparison to them, but nevertheless, the results I get are interesting enough. Photographing insects is also easier since they are much easier to find, there is more variety of insects on this planet than there are mammals or birds. Insects are much easier to approach than birds or other mammals, which makes insect photography an ideal candidate for amateurs like me. I would choose to leave the tigers and snow leopards to the pros.
The ubiquity of insects makes photographing them a real good pastime. The other day, I was waiting for a friend at the Hauz Khas metro station. My friend turned up half an hour late. I used the time to photograph a bug that was crawling on the granite wall at the sides of the staircase. The time waiting for him was well spent.
On a different note, macro photography enables me to look at things differently. a five millimeter spider can have eight legs, and four simple eyes. A dragonfly can have a pair of beautiful helmet-like compound eyes and a few simple eyes as well. A damselfly looks like a perfect Hollywood alien. The body of an ant is not smooth as it looks, but is full of hair. A mosquito has a very complex anatomy. Watching a bee grip a flower, and carry pollen in its pollen sack is exhilarating. In one week in my garden at home, I could spot five species of honeybees and bumble bees, one of them having blue bands. I spotted a species that looked like a bee but didn't have a sting, and later found out that the species is called a hoverfly. I educated myself about dragonflies, and spotted at least 6 different species of dragonflies (although I couldn't photograph all of them). I learnt about a species called a leafhopper. I found five kinds of caterpillars in my garden, and a greater number of species of butterfly.
Macro photography of insects really opens one's eyes to how beautiful nature can be, and how complex and beautiful each species is, even the tiniest ones. When one sees a cockroach creep out of the drain, it fills one with disgust. However, views can change, as my view changed after this photograph.
It is no wonder that Darwin was fascinated with beetles. If you still aren't convinced, I'll direct you to the master's photostream. If you still aren't convinced, you should watch these videos:

1 comment:

Pallavi said...

One of the many easy things about shooting insects is that most people ignore insects all their life and looking them from upclose you find a completely different world, one you have never explored at macro lengths. Makes the picture much more fascinating. And the hardest thing about it is to not freak out when the insect you are busy focusing the lens on suddenly goes missing :D Insects on me, especially the uninvited ones, freak me out to no end, even the harmless ones.