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07-25-2013, 12:02 PM   #1

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ontario
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Laurel Sphinx
Lens: DFA 100mm Macro Camera: k100d Photo Location: Ontario ISO: 800 Shutter Speed: 1/125s Aperture: F13.5 

A Laurel Sphinx, Sphinx kalmiae, caterpillar. Mostly my goal was to take an interesting photo of this wickedly bulbous caterpillar but now that I have an ID, I hope it's something I can educate/annoy people with. I know enough people that persecute any hornworm they see, believing them all to be Tomato or Tobacco hornworms out to destroy their veggie garden. This hornworm actually feeds on plants in the Kalmia family, aka Laurel, aka 'Sheepkill', aka 'something farmers don't want around', and is actually helpful in that regard. Mind what you squish.

For the photo itself, I was aiming for 'checkboard lighting' to highlight the caterpillar which I think worked pretty well. The checkerboard scheme- light head in front of dark background, dark tail in front of light background. This dark/light pattern also reads left to right through the middle of the photo- light background, dark branch, light legs, dark right side of caterpillar, light background.

The caterpillar was lit with a flash in a small softbox on the left side and a reflector below and on the right for a touch of fill. The background was lit by the sun and this was a happy occasion to have the built in IS as it was handheld. I often do deliberately over-the top and obviously artificial lighting schemes, but was aiming for something a little more natural looking and subtle here.

I dislike how close that bit of branch is to the left edge of the frame, but hope the caterpillar is eye catching enough that it's not too distracting. There's maybe too much negative space to the bottom right as well. There's no crop that really fixes either of these issues in a satisfactory way.

As always, I'm open to any comments or criticisms

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07-25-2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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Tako Kichi's Avatar

Join Date: May 2013
Location: SW Ontario, Canada (ex-pat Brit)
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That's a nice, sharp, shot.

Re. the cropping, have you got enough on the original image to allow you to rotate the image CCW to bring the twig/caterpillar into a more vertical position and then re-crop? That would get rid of the close twig issue on the left and eliminate the dead space on the right. Your background bokeh could help here as there is no distinct 'horizon' to throw the eye off.
07-25-2013, 01:23 PM   #3

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Ontario
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tako Kichi Quote
That's a nice, sharp, shot.

QuoteOriginally posted by Tako Kichi Quote
Re. the cropping, have you got enough on the original image to allow you to rotate the image CCW to bring the twig/caterpillar into a more vertical position and then re-crop?.
Alas, no. This is the original. I generally aim to line things up as I want the end image to be and I sometimes fall victim to a strong urge to use each and every pixel my k100d has to offer. I definitely agree that a CCW rotation would help those issues. I think I was a little fixated on keeping it somewhat diagonal as that was closer to 'reality' and I thought at the time it helped preserve the sense that it was about to fall off the end of the branch (which it was determined to do, and then grab tenaciously onto my reflector positioned below it).

I appreciate the suggestion! I'll probably always 'crop in camera', but I always like to consider what I could have done differently and keep these things in mind the next time I look through the viewfinder
08-06-2013, 09:10 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Alliecat's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: East of Everywhere, Canada
Posts: 721
You really think these things through...
Cool photo. Composition-wise, what if you turned it upside down...? The light didn't seem really 'wrong' when I turned my laptop upside down


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