Spotlit bug

red and black bug spotlit against dark background
Spotlit sap-sucker (Hemiptera)

When we are photographing small insects, the available light is crucial: we need a small aperture for the depth of field, which means a long exposure time (in which the bug might move) or a lot of light. We therefore use flash quite often.

The effect is frequently unnatural, since the flash illuminates the subject without reaching the background, but can be attractive. This shot is typical: the little sap-sucker was hanging around in a shady part of the Palmetum late in the afternoon – not the middle of the night as one might think – and the vegetation behind it has vanished into stygian gloom.

Caper Gull

It must be about time for another butterfly … here’s a species that I had never seen in my garden until a few days ago.

Caper Gull butterfly
The Caper Gull, aka Australian Gull, Cepora perimale scyllara

We do occasionally get butterflies that have been blown out of their usual territory and they are often rather tired and battered. This one turned up late one afternoon and all it wanted to do was sleep in the shadows under our native wisteria vine.
That posed a problem for the photographer, of course. Flash was essential. The solid black background is the consequence, as it usually is in such a situation; it’s not unattractive but I wouldn’t like to do it all the time because it shows nothing of the insect’s habitat.
I do have one shot of the Caper Gull on its home ground, on top of Mt Stuart, but its background happens to be nearly as uninformative – see?