Category Archives: Insect

Sonoran Centipede

Sonoran Centipede_1

I shoot with two major types of cameras – Nikon and Sony. The advantage of the Nikon line is that it is, frankly, the best available for nature photography. The autofocus system is the fastest anywhere and, while their lenses are rather pricey, there is a noticeable improvement for the cost. The Sony line, on the other hand, has the best low light capability (more or less, this is debatable) and is *much* smaller. So, the Nikon is the system I take for the serious shoots and the Sony system is what I use as a backup, when I am doing non-serious photography, or when I am just tired of carrying all the weight of the Nikon stuff.

Last summer, I was surprised to learn that the flash system I use (PocketWizard) was constructed such that I could use the Nikon units on the Sony system. This is amazing because off camera flash is how I get the good looking macro shots. I ran some tests at home and it worked, so I took the Sony system to the zoo along with my PocketWizards and Nikon flashes. Then I went to use it.

Well … “works” is apparently a loaded word.

The flash did fire. That’s true. There was no way to adjust the flash power except manually on the flash. That’s okay though. However, even in the few shots that did work out okay, the top 1/3 of the photo was black. This is weird because if it were a flash sync issue, I’d expect it to be the bottom, but I suppose the electronic shutter is, somehow, faster than the radio trigger to the flash unit.

Anyway, I only got one good macro shot with the flash. This is it – cropped from the partial photo.



When you really think about it, floral reproduction is bizarrely complex and hard to believe that it would actually work in real life.

Then again, with sufficient pondering, that applies to all forms of reproduction.

Water Strider

Water Strider_1_v3

If you zoom in on this photo, you’ll see that strider’s right eye is malformed. I do not know if it got crushed somehow or (more likely) if something went wrong when it was growing.

Given what I know of insect brains and how they handle image reconstitution, though, this may not actually be a drawback to how they interpret the world. The operating theory seems to be that each eye facet sends an image section to the brain, which folds them all together into a single concept of the world around them. Unlike our eyes, which have focusing mechanisms, each facet in an insect eye consists of a fixed lens (like a GoPro) connected to a single sensor cell (not like a GoPro), so it is quite possible that the insect’s brain can reconstruct a mental image of their surroundings just fine with eyes that aren’t spherical. They likely have some blind spots on the right, but it’s probably more like cataracts than total vision loss.