Monday, 10 March 2014

The Story Behind... Portrait of a Mantis

Hi there. I've just posted this photo, in my series "Portrait of...", on my 500px portfolio ( This one is titled "Portrait of a Mantis"

Portrait of a Mantis (c) Gilles Royer 2014 - Nikon D200 / Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro

This shot is from an impromptu meeting. A couple of nights ago, my wife had a little scare as she met this little mantis on our deck. But the surprise over, she called me as she realised I'd be keen to take a few snapshots of this beautiful little bug. 

I straight away took the camera, but it was quite dark outside. But I thought this was the only chance I had, so set the mantis in a pot of flowers nearby, and started to shoot with the flash. I then moved it to a cyprus bush, and tool a few more shots. When I reviewed the shots later on, I was not fully happy with them, as it was hard to get a good focus in total darkness, and the flash and focus of the Tamron lens combined were way too slow to get an interesting shot.

So I was nicely surprised, the day after, when I went in the garden, and this mantis was still there, baking in the late summer sun. You already know what I did next! I rushed back inside to grab my camera, determined to have a good shot under the nice morning light. 

And I did! I tried a few different angles and distances, as well as a few different sets, thanks to a very helpful Mantis, happy to be moved around, carried on a stick, and probed to show its best angle! 

This was was shot in a bush of purple Platycodon Astra (Platycodon grandiflorus), hence the nice purple hues in the background. I aimed at focusing on the eye, whilst setting a shallow aperture of f/5.6 to get nice separation between the face and the rest of the body. I also turned down the ISO to 125 (I usually have 200 as a standard setting on the camera).

I'm not quite sure what the exact species of Mantis this one is. It's a brown / beige colour, not the green mantises I'm more used to. Please let me know if you know the species name, as I'd be keen to find out.

Hope you like it! And thanks for your visit