Welcome to the 3rd Annual BitB Top 10, where I pick my 10 (more or less) favorite photographs of the year. My goal for 2010 was to continue the progress that I began the previous year in my quest to become a bona fide insect macrophotographer. I’m not in the big leagues yet, but I have gotten more comfortable with using my equipment for in situ field photographs and am gaining a better understanding of lighting and the use of flash. I also began experimenting with different lighting techniques (e.g. white box) and diffusers and am putting more effort into post-processing techniques to enhance the final appearance of my photographs. I invite you to judge for yourself how successful I’ve been toward those goals by comparing the following selections with those from 2009 and 2008 - constructive feedback is always welcome:
Best Tiger Beetle
From ID Challenge #1 (posted December 23). With numerous species photographed during the year and several of these dramatic “face on” shots, this was a hard choice. I chose this one because of the metallic colors, good focus throughout the face, and evenly blurred “halo” of hair in a relatively uncluttered background.
Best Jewel Beetle
From Special Delivery (posted July 13). I didn’t have that many jewel beetles photos to choose from, but this one would have risen to the top no matter how many others I had. The use of a white box shows off the brilliant (and difficult-to-photograph) metallic colors well, and I like the animated look of the slightly cocked head.
Best Longhorned Beetle
From Desmocerus palliatus – elderberry borer (posted November 18). I like the mix of colors in this photograph, and even though it’s a straight dorsal view from the top, the partial dark background adds depth to the photo to prevent it from looking “flat.”
Best “Other” Beetle
From Orange-banded checkered beetle (posted April 22). The even gray background compliments the colors of the beetle and highlights its fuzziness. It was achieved entirely by accident - the trunk of the large, downed hickory tree on which I found this beetle happened to be a couple of feet behind the twig on which it was resting.
Best Non-Beetle Insect
From Euhagena nebraskae… again (posted October 21). I photographed this species once before, but those photos failed to capture the boldness of color and detail of the scales that can be seen in this photo.
Best “Posed” Insect
From North America’s largest stag beetle (posted December 30). I’ve just started experimenting with photographing posed, preserved specimens, and in fact this male giant stag beetle represents only my second attempt. It’s hard to imagine, however, a more perfect subject than this impressively stunning species.
Best Non-Insect Arthropod
From North America’s largest centipede (posted September 7). Centipedes are notoriously difficult to photograph due to their elongate, narrow form and highly active manner. The use of a glass bowl and white box allowed me to capture this nicely composed image of North America’s most spectacular centipede species.
From Friday Flower – Ozark Witch Hazel (posted March 26). The bizarre form and striking contrast of colors with the dark background make this my favorite wildflower photograph for the year.
From Eye of the Turtle (posted December 10). I had a hard time deciding on this category, but the striking red eye in an otherwise elegantly simple photograph won me over. It was also one of two BitB posts featured this past year on Freshly Pressed.
Best “Super Macro”
From Jeepers Creepers, where’d ya get those multilayered retinae? (posted October 5). I’m not anywhere close to Thomas Shahan (yet!), but this super close-up of the diminutive and delightfully colored Phidippus apacheanus is my best jumping spider attempt to date. A new diffuser system and increasing comfort with using the MP-E lens in the field at higher magnification levels should allow even better photos this coming season.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011