Photographing Grasshoppers and Crickets

December 23, 2016

On one of my trips to take pictures of water voles I realised that the field I was walking through was full of a noise that took me back to my childhood, it was the chirping, sawing noise of grasshoppers. On a whim I put down my camera bag and went on a safari with my macro lens. I loved pretending to be a young child again and soon had my technique perfected for finding them. I had great fun and felt really rewarded for the hour or so I spent hunting them down, but the greatest reward was seen when I got home and looked at the results. The close up structures and features were amazing, and would not have been so easily seen with the naked eye.

 

What I have found so amazing is not so much the features seen on the insects but the behaviour I have seen, from a blue bottle secreting a bubble of fluid to a fly doing what looked like gymnastics. This fascination is something that I have felt with all of my insect photography to date, they really do live in a different world.

This fascination does give me a bit of a moral dilemma though as I love some of the focus stacked images out there. I have decided that I cannot justify taking any animal away from its home (even temporarily) just to take pictures, and I will not kill one or cool it down for the purposes of getting a better picture. All my pictures are taken in situ, and if I am limited by that decision then so be it, I will just have to work harder (look at me on my high horse!).

 

Tips for photographing grasshoppers and crickets:

  • Research their behaviour and where to find them, grasshoppers are active through the day and crickets are more active at dawn and dusk.

  • They love longer grass, I have been most successful when taking pictures mid-meadow or on the borders between meadow and hedgerow.

  • Identify their location by following their noise, once close get low and look for them (keeping an ear open).

  • If they jump follow them visually then slowly approach.

  • Keep your shadow away from them as that can make them jump.

  • Get low (wildlife pictures look great if taken at the animal’s eye level), and move slowly, you can get very, very close if you are careful.

  • Focus on the eyes but adjust the depth of field for some wonderfully arty shots.

  • Be patient and enjoy the hunt.

 

 

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All images are © Andrew Keenan.