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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?

Have you ever wondered how nature photographers capture such wonderful shots of flighty insects?

Take damselflies like this one. Damselflies, and their relatives the dragonflies, are fast, strong fliers. How do you ever catch one sitting still enough for a photograph?

It helps to know the damselfly's behavior. For example, this damselfly was not exactly sitting still, although it looks like it from the photograph. What it is doing is perching, waiting for a fly or some other potential food item to fly by. See those big eyes? When it spots something, it launches into the air and grabs the prey. The beauty is that these insects often return to the same exact perch to hunt again and again. With patience, you can set up your tripod and grab a good shot of an active insect in a moment of stillness.

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Who doesn’t love ladybugs? They are beautiful, and helpful. Now you and your children have an opportunity to help out a scientist with a project on ladybugs.

Dr. John Losey, a professor of entomology at Cornell University, wants you and your children to find and photograph ladybugs. Scientists have noticed that some native species of lady beetles are disappearing, while introduced ladybugs are on the rise. Dr. Losey wants children to help document ladybug populations around the country by taking photographs and sending them to him, with information about when and where they were found.

This is a fun project for learning about ladybugs, which are actually a type of beetle. However, before you rush to the website, I would like to add my two cents to the information provided on the website. First of all, it is pretty easy to take photos of ladybugs without catching them or handling them. You can spot ladybugs while out hiking. They sit on plants, usually out in the open. That’s how I got this photograph. The less you handle them the better, especially if you are lucky enough to spot a rare one.

ladybug

Second, be sure to download and print out the Field Guide. Although the photograph here looks like the one on their website, it is actually the introduced seven-spotted lady beetle, not the nine-spotted one. The Field Guide helps a lot.

To find out more, go to the Lost Ladybug Project <snip>

Have fun!