Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


So I’ve had a look through my giant book of beetles and I still am not sure what this is. They were everywhere in the leaf litter in early May. So many that while filming chipmunks I spied a few crawling around slightly out of focus. They are less than 2 cm and very slender. They almost never stop moving, but this one did and I got it posed on the edge of this leaf for a few seconds, long enough for a bit of video as well. I assume they overwinter as adults and emerge when the temperatures get warm enough.

Specific Feedback

It isn’t the sharpest on earth since I was handholding and not expecting to do any insect macros. But I think it’s sharp where it needs to be.

Technical Details



Lr for a biggish crop and a bit of exposure and the usual S-curve. Wb adjustment & some sharpening.

Oh wow, Kris, wonder what it is? This is a nice down at the bugs eye level view, and what needs to be sharp is. I like that you caught it on the edge of a leaf. The oof BG is complimentary to the subject. Well done!

Hi Kris,
that’s a great macro shot. The DOF is just perfect.
It is not easy to shoot insects hand-held. Every time I try this, I realize again that I have too little patience for macro photography.

I just asked my app what insect this could be. It pointed me to this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elateroidea#:~:text=The%20Elateroidea%20are%20a%20large,consists%20of%20about%2025%2C000%20species

It’s funny: Whenever I see the thumbnail in the feed, the bug looks like it’s grinning broadly. In the original size of the photo, I then realize that they are not teeth but the feelers of the beetle. Or what do you call those things the beetle has on the bottom of its head?

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Thanks @Shirley_Freeman, I think Jens’s app is onto something. A few of my suspects were in that class of beetle. I’ll keep on it.

@Jens_Ober - human brains find faces in everything, don’t they? Glad you like the shot. Yeah, handheld macro is challenging, especially since I didn’t bring my flash. Those on the edges are maxillary palps and further in are labial palps. If beetles can be said to have lips. They certainly have jaws. Here’s a Six-spotted tiger beetle showing off his -

Although they are back in the yard, Shirley will recognize that photo from last year. They hang out on my driveway to hunt ants and this one just caught one and turned to face me when I got him. And it is a him since the jaws are white. They’re so brilliant green, but luckily less than 2cm long.

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Wow, poor little ant. But the green beetle is really cool.

I see many inspiring macro shots here… perhaps I should dust off my macro lens. :thinking:

Do you use the flash directly, or do you have some kind of diffuser mounted?
I have a small softbox that I can attach to the flash. But this does not necessarily improve the balance of the camera. My macro lens is relatively heavy. The whole thing then becomes a bit front-heavy.
And it must look funny when I walk through the neighborhood with the whole setup. :rofl:

Oh yes, Jens, please dust off the macro lens and give it a try again. Each photographer has their own setup and we learn what works best for us. I learned from Thomas Shahan ( Lighting for Macro Photography and Review of the Venus KX-800 Twin Flash - YouTube YouTube video some years back about this flash setup and have struggled to find the best way to diffuse the light (found a lid off of a Tupperware type container in my kitchen, so finally feel satisfied. You will want a diffuser of some sort, but it can be homemade, whatever works for you, but some of the insects are very reflective so the bare flash leaves a terrible blowout of reflection. Just start with what you have (and if it is heavy, I find that a monopod helps). It is a whole different universe out there to explore with your macro setup, even in you own yard. I wish you the best in it. Looking forward to seeing some of your macro shots. And thanks for looking up that beetle.

When I remember to bring it, I use this set up -

Here it is with the remote trigger and the flash on the ground in a sleeve -

and in my hand -

The softbox is made of silicone so is very squashy and cleans up well after being on the ground. My macro lens isn’t big or heavy, but the flash is so I’ll often put the battery grip on the camera for some ballast.

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@_Kris: Looks like I have exactly the same flash and remote trigger.
But my softbox is much bigger, it is rather intended for portraits. Yours seems to be handy.

Okay, I must admit that I have already photographed something today on the terrace.

Just searched my hard drive and found something old:

Oh, these are good, Jen! Looking forward to seeing more. That was very kind of you @_Kris to provide so many photos of your setup. Like I said, each finds what works for them. I like using a flash and diffuser of some sort, because it provides enough light and stops action so you can use a higher f-stop number to get more DOF.

Yeah, those are fun little critters, Jens. Keep trying as the spirit moves you. It does take some time to get a rhythm and a feel for macro work, but I find it fun and rewarding.

All those macro shots are excellent, but that first beetle is like something from Star Wars! Very well done! The DOF is perfect to show off that face!!

Somewhere a while back (maybe 12-18 months ago?) – and maybe here??? – I saw a neat-looking way to make a diffuser using a medium-sized soft-drink bottle cut to fit over the flash head, and now I can’t find it again. It seemed so obvious (and clever) but now I can’t visualize how it was cut.

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@Diane_Miller Diane, I made one out of a milk jug, well, it was actually distilled water, not milk. I put the photo of my setup up on NPN, so maybe that is what you are thinking of, not sure. I have since found in my own kitchen the perfect diffuser, a lid to a storage container about 8 X 11, and it works very well for my twin flash. I use twist ties to hold it on. Not sure how it or the jug would work with just a regular flash for fastening it on. There are endless ways to make our own diffusers, and we can use store bought ones as well.

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Aww, thanks for the EP, Shirl. That was sweet of you.

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You are welcome, Kris. i thought it was worthy of the EP.