The impressive Mantis portrait is being featured on our site this month was captured by photographer Robert Lopshire of Frenchtown, NJ with his Sigma 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens. We asked Rob for some details of how he wrangled this eye-catching close-up of this insect.
I was heading out to my truck to leave and do some errands, I opened the door to climb in and I felt something hit my arm. She landed on me and crawled around for a bit, I gently escorted her to the tailgate of my truck then ran inside to and grab my gear including my Nikon D4, Sigma 180mm, Nikon SB910, and Rogue Flash Bender (hand held , no support).
First shots were her on my truck, she immediately gained interest in me, the camera or her reflection in the lens…she proceeded to examine the scene by crawling on every bit of my gear as the BTS video below shows.
Fearing she would lose interest I moved her to a set of white plastic milk crate stacking/organizers I had sitting out side my garage which gave the classic white seamless look. These “studio” photos have been very popular!
I used my Nikon D4 with Sigma APO Macro 180mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens.
For the most part I usually shoot most all my macro starting at aperture f/16 but because the mantis is quite lengthy I set to f/18 or f/22. You really need to play with your angles and perspective when capturing them. For the most part they move pretty slow so 1/100 to 1/125sec shutter speed works well. ISO I had at 100. It was hand held for this as I was changing positions with her movements and the space was limited.
Nothing shows a mantis personality more than their big beautiful eyes so getting a nice catch light in the peepers is crucial for us with the Praying mantis or any insect really. I had the Nikon SB910 speedlight attached on camera with a Rogue FlashBender.