Photographing Grasshoppers and Crickets
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.