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Photographing Insects

( Originally Published 1902 )

Outfit required. Long-focus camera (focussing hand-camera by preference). Rapid long-focus lens with telephoto attachment. Rapid ordinary plates (occasionally isochromatic plates are necessary). Tripod and other ordinary appliances. Microscope with photo-plate attachment.

THIS is a most fascinating field for camera work, and a field that is not very often entered. The many and various difficulties to be overcome, the enormous range and diversity of subject, the intensely interesting material which may be procured with so little difficulty, all help to make this branch of photography of the greatest possible interest. Not only are there the insects visible to the naked eye, but also the vast throng of microscopic life, so remarkable in its infinite variety of form.

Beyond the few pictures of butterflies and moths and dragon-flies, we do not see many insect pictures. Occasionally a spider is photographed. But yet we may say that insect photography is in its infancy. The camera of the graflex type is undoubtedly the one best suited to this kind of work, even though frequently a tripod will be found necessary. Any camera, to be of all-round use, must be arranged so that it may be pointed directly downward or upward. A picture of a strider that I once used was made with the camera pointing almost straight down. I had been asked to make a picture that would show the insect and his peculiar shadow. After trying many times and without success to secure such a picture while the insects were in a small stream, I finally had to catch some of the lively little creatures, and put them in a white-lined box with about an inch of water. In this way it was easy enough to make the photographs of both insect and shadow.

Photographs of some varieties of wasps make interesting pictures, as with little difficulty they may be portrayed while at work building their mud house or delicate hanging comb. These are but suggestions of the endless subjects possible in insect photography. To go into the subject at all thoroughly would entail writing a book on entomology, and the writer has neither the ability nor the desire to attempt such a work.

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