I took these a couple of weeks ago but only just put them in the computer. Another win for the humble Ricoh CX-1. That you can casually snap macro shots like this with such a small, basic and ageing camera, it’s amazing.
Click for full resolution.
Unfortunately, they don’t make the CX-1 anymore, and they discontinued the subsequent series. I’ll use this one until it breaks, but if I was after a new camera I would go for the Canon Stylus TG4 Tough. It’s marketed as an all-weather waterproof camera, but it has a pretty impressive-looking macro mode. The sample photos include shots of snowflakes.
May is my favourite month of the year for weather. It’s warm but not humid, and there still aren’t too many insects about. Apart from these buggers that is. For the past few years we’ve had centipede incursions every May. This particular one was waiting in the doorway when I arrived home one night last week. I usually catch insects and let them out, but for these nightmares I make an exception. Boiling water does them in.
A couple of experiences.
One time I was sitting at the computer. You know those comedy horror films where there’s a person and this huge monster is behind them? They’ll mistake the monster’s claw for their wife’s hand or something and bat it away? Well I was that person and one of these creatures was the monster. I thought it was a thread on my jumper touching the back of my neck. I kept brushing it away until I realised what it was. I hit the ceiling. Never moved so fast.
Then, one time I was sitting watching the telly. No warning. Something’s up my trouser leg! Pain!! One of the little buggers had slipped up unnoticed and rammed its horns into my shin. Again, I’ve never moved as quickly in my life. The two holes took over a week to heal.
This one here is about the length of my middle finger. Very meaty and has a weight when you pick it up. More like a little animal than an insect. And look at the colour. Who needs aliens when these things are lurking nearby?
This one was just outside the front door today. There are a few insects that look very similar, but I’m pretty certain it’s “Lycostomus modestus” (ベニボタル). It’s a close relative of the firefly but doesn’t glow. The japanese name for the insect actually includes the word “firefly” due to the close resemblance.
I took my daughter out to see the fireflies a couple of times last week. She has no fear of insects at all. In fact, she loves them. At one point she had four fireflies crawling around illuminating her palm, and I was busy trying to get one or two decent macro shots for reference.
I think I’m going to need some practice. I took the camera out this evening and made a first attempt at photographing fireflies.
You set the camera to manual focus at infinity and open the lens up. Then you shoot multiple exposures at a reasonable ISO for a good few seconds. I chose ISO400 for 15 seconds and took about 20 photos. Back home, you import the images into Photoshop and set all the layers to Screen. This allows the trails to be overlayed without the background becoming too bright. Here’s the best result of four attempts ….
I’ve been too busy to do anything these last two weeks, but this evening I took a walk out. This is “Luciola cruciata”, or ゲンジボタル (GenjiBotaru). I was illuminating it with a red light. That’s why the colours are off.
From tomorrow, I’ll be out most days trying to get a feel for how they move. I’ll also be trying to get some decent reference photos for modelling, although my camera is at its limits in the dark and up against tiny objects.
I’d like to get the firefly model finished by the end of the month.
How much easier this would be if it was a photo blog. One click and there’s your post. Instead, I have to spend hours moving round vertices, turning edges, extruding polygons before I have something to show for my effort. Graphic software has come on leaps and bounds, but there will always be bucketloads of unglamorous spade work to do.
I’m having difficulty finding good reference material for modelling the firefly. The genus I need to make is one of the typical japanese varieties – ゲンジボタル (GenjiBotaru) or “Luciola cruciata”. I should be able to go around picking up dead ones next month. In the meantime, I thought I’d take some insect photos to get in the mood.
This one is called “Bothrogonia ferruginea (Fabricius)” (ツマグロオオヨコバイ) and it landed on my wife’s shoulder this afternoon. I used an old Ricoh CX-1. It has a pretty decent macro mode for such a small camera.