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Ever run across a photograph that made your jaw drop, and then made you ask, "How did the photographer do that?"

Take these photographs posted on Flickr by Sam Droege of the USGS Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, for example:

Echinocactus polycephalus - cotton top cactus seed

Echinocactus polycephalus ssp xeranthermoides

Paspalum species

Southern red oak acorn

In this case, Sam Droege offers a manual that shows the set up and process. He reveals that he uses StackShot Rail, which digitally combines a series of photographs to give that amazing all over focus. The URL address to the manual How to Take Macrophotographs of Insects BIML Lab2 is on his profile page.

Although I'm not ready to buy all the fancy equipment, these just might inspire me to try black backgrounds and pay more attention to lighting.

What do you think? Are you ready to give this technique a try?

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Today I thought I'd dig through the archives and find you a very tricky mystery insect.

mystery-insect-2014

Do you have any guesses what it might be? (I know the photograph isn't the best.)

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In case you were wondering about the insects in last week's post, here are their identities and links to the original posts.

2013-spring-fuzzy-bee-better

This fuzzy little bee is a digger bee, probably genus Centris. It is a type of solitary bee, which means each female digs and provisions her own nest. (Spring is in the air)

2013-checkered-white-adult

This dainty butterfly is a checkered white.

butterfly-on-foot

On my toe is a tropical butterfly I saw during a visit to Butterfly Magic at the Tucson Botanical Garden. It is a brown clipper, Parthenos sylvia. There is also a blue form.

2013-first-monarch-in-yard

We were excited to see the first monarch butterfly of the fall.

2013-hasy-moth

I gave the tiny owlet moth with the rainbow of colors on its wings a second look.

stripy-face-better

Who can resist a photograph of a queen butterfly caterpillar?

2013-asparagus-beetle

I knew the plant was a naturalized asparagus plant when I saw the spotted asparagus beetle.

2013-locust-borer

A sign of fall in the East, this is a locust borer beetle.

2013-jumping-spider

The tiny guy with the big eyes is a jumping spider. You can see more here at this older post.

Thank you for playing!

 

 

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Inspired by Alex Wild's list of Best Nature Photograph's of 2013 at The Compound Eye, I decided to do a best of list as well. Or at least favorites.

Seems like I took a lot of photographs of bees...

2013-spring-fuzzy-bee-better

and butterflies...

2013-checkered-white-adult

butterfly-on-foot

2013-first-monarch-in-yard

and moths...

2013-hasy-moth

and caterpillars...

stripy-face-better

but I also threw in some beetles...

2013-asparagus-beetle

2013-locust-borer

and even a spider.

2013-jumping-spider

Do you recognize them all?

Do you have a favorite nature photograph from 2013?