Photo of the Week 11 February 2014
Congratulations to Ian Wright from Austin, Texas for his Photo of the Week winning image “Robbery Fly.” We had the chance to speak with Ian about his winning image and his intricate way of capturing this amazing macro shot. See more of Ian’s work on flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/ianmwright86/ to stay up to date on his latest photography projects.
What was this image shot with?
Camera: Nikon D60
Where was the image taken?
This image was actually somewhat “faked” and taken in a home studio in Austin, Texas.
What is the meaning/story behind the title?
The tittle “Robber fly” actually refers to the common name for this group of flies, the Asilidae family. The name evokes something about the behavior of these little predators. Robber flies are quick, agile flyers that dart out from perches after their insect prey.
What was this image taken for? (Personal, event, etc.)
This image was taken for my own personal work. Insects have always been a passion of mine and, recently, that has developed into my passion for macro photography. Macro photography is a challenging hobby and I’m always experimenting with different equipment, lighting, studio and field set-ups; all while learning to communicate the natural history of each different type of insect. This photo is one of the results from my tinkering.
Can you tell us a little about the process of how you came across this shot? Were you walking along and came across the opportunity?
I’m a biologist and I’m always looking for subjects when hiking, or leading classes out, in nature. I collect and curate insects for both professional collections and for my personal collections so, I’m often out with a net. Such was the case when I was out for a hike at our University’s field station and this little Efferia sp. robber fly landed on a branch nearby. I took a few photos in the field, but wanted a more intimate portrait so, I caught her in my net and took her back to my studio. I popped her in the fridge to slow her down while I set up the background and lighting. The background is a print of an out of focus picture I took of leaves, and the perch was a juniper twig held in position with a flexible clamp. Once she was cooled down, I placed her on the twig and sprayed some water over her to accentuate her hairy body and make her pop a little more. The lighting came from Nikon R1 Wireless Close-Up Speedlight Flash System on my 105mm macro lens (each manual at 1/4 power). I was shooting at f/16 but wanted a little more depth of field so this shot is actually a focus stack of four handheld images (each taken at f/16). When I was done, I let her go near where I caught her so she could continue munching on mosquitoes!
How did you post process this image?
Post processing on this image (aside from the stacking) was pretty simple. I first stacked the images in Photoshop CS5. I then cropped the resulting image a bit, in order to remove some of the artifacts from the stacking process. After that, I did a levels adjustment and sharpened the image.
Who are some photographers that inspire you?
By far, my favorite photographer is Moose Peterson. Not only is he an amazing photographer but, to me, the most impressive thing about him is he gets such amazing shots by truly understanding the natural history of the critters he photographs. His skill and passion for wildlife photography, and conservation, are truly an inspiration. John and Kendra Abbott are two close personal friends of mine who do amazing work. John has been a big mentor to me in all aspects of life. I enjoy exploring a number of genres of photography so I’m also inspired by everyone from portrait photographers to sports photographers such as; Joel Sartore, Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, Jeff Cable, Ansel Adams, and many others. A lot of my macro photography inspiration comes from the likes of Alex Wild, Thomas Shahan, Mark Moffett, Piotr Naskrecki, and Nicky Bay. There are so many amazing photographers out there!
What type of photography do you enjoy most for personal and professional projects?
My greatest passion in life is nature and natural history, so wildlife and macro photography are usually what I enjoy the most. The only thing better than watching and enjoying the behavior, and natural history, of a critter is doing so through a viewfinder and capturing those moments to share with others, especially when that visual communication can affect conservation. That said, I’m also enjoy photographing people, sports, airplanes, you name it!
What inspires your photography?
My photography is inspired by natural history. I love nothing better than to capture how cool critters are on film. Being able to catch a photo of a bird singing, or a jumping spider courtship dance, is a great gift! And being able to communicate the passion I have through photography, keeps me out there making pictures.
Is there anything else you would like to include about your personal work or this photo?
I hope that my work can inspire others to get out in and appreciate nature. I firmly believe that visual communication can be one of the strongest tools for inspiring awe in nature; something we need to do if we are to have any hope of conserving it. Go to your local nature preserve, take a hike, and take some pictures. Anyone can take photos like my robber fly image. Give macro photography a try! I think you’ll find some of the most enjoyment in some of the smallest things!
Feeling inspired to submit your own image to our Photo of the Week contest?
Email us your best photo at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, title of the photo, the city where you live, portfolio website and what gear you used to get the shot. Files should be saved at 72 dpi JPEG at least 1000 pixels on its longest edge. Please do not include a watermark, if chosen we will add one to your photo.
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