What camera/equipment do you use?
I’m currently using a Pentax K200D with either a vintage 28mm or 50mm prime reversed to the end of extension tubes. In the rare chance that I have a highly cooperative subject, I may bust out my macro bellows for some really high magnification shots.
Adult Male Phidippus mystaceus Jumping Spider
-How do you get bugs to sit still for your photographs?
I don’t “get” the bugs to do anything. The vast majority of arthropods I try to photograph vanish before I can even get a single shot! The two keys to successful macro photography are in understanding the behavior of different arthropods and taking an incredibly large amount of shots (with a considerable emphasis on the latter).
Female Horse Fly - Tabanus lineola
-You’re just too good! There must be some sort of trickery going on… did you freeze or gas these bugs?
No! I obviously love working with arthropods quite a bit and would never intentionally harm a subject just to get a good photo. Very early on in my experiments with macro photography I did pop a few bugs in the fridge in an attempt to get them to slow down, but after I had one or two die on me, the guilt got to me and I haven’t “chilled” any subjects since. I can assure you, all the subjects in my photos are quite alive and in good health unless I state otherwise!
Adult Male "Apache" Jumper - Phidippus apacheanus
-I’ve somehow developed the idea that it’s impossible to successfully focus-stack images of a live animal. These bugs are dead, aren’t they?
Once again, no! I do not immobilize or physically restrict the movement of my subjects in any way. If it’s an option I always try to photograph subjects in their natural environment (or at least outside), but occasionally I will bring an arthropod indoors to photograph (usually Salticids as they can disappear if not watched).
As for the focus-stacking, sometimes I just get lucky and the bug/spider will sit still enough for me to fire off a couple shots from the same angle. I do all my focus stacking manually in Photoshop with great care to not alter or misrepresent the form of the subject.
Anterior Median and Lateral Eyes of a female Paraphidippus aurantius Jumping Spider
-Do you sell prints? Do you have a book?
Sorry, I currently don’t sell prints (though I would like to soon) or have a book out yet. If you’re a publisher and interested in working something out with me – contact me.
-These bugs are beautiful! Where do you live?!
Male Habronattus coecatus Jumping Spider
-I ‘d like to get into macro photography. What lens/camera/flash should I buy?
Equipment is secondary – you can do a lot with a little.
Just get out there, have fun looking for bugs, and take as many photos as possible!
Compound Eyes of a Holocephala fusca Robber Fly