Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gibbifer guatemalae

Here are a few images I took this morning after playing around with the lighting on my camera set-up. I'm much happier with these images than I am with earlier images that I have taken with virtually the same equipment. I use a Sony Cyber-shot camera with a built-in macro lens (which cost me about $350). I have intentionally wanted a smaller and less expensive camera because when I am in the field, my equipment can get bumped around a bit in my backpack. So I have been motivated to figure out how to take reasonably good images of small insects with the same camera.

Some time ago I created a lighted platform to take pictures of pinned specimens. It is a 4-inch bottom of a 5-gallon plastic bucket (the top part cut away) with a circular hole cut out of the bottom through which I take pictures. Around the inside of the modified bucket I have secured small shelving lights (halogen lamps). I place this bottom-side up (with the hole now on top) and place the specimens to be photographed inside the lighted bucket on a white foam base.

This has been OK but the problem has been that the lighting contrast was too great between the bright white background and the specimens. These pictures are different in that I placed a black cloth around the specimens to damped the contrast. I think the coloring of these images is much better.

The Gibbifer specimen is from Honduras. It is an erotylid beetle that is just under an inch long - quite impressive. Central America is famous for its impressive erotylid beetles. The Phymaphora male has one of its antenna knocked off. The female image has both still attached. They are only about 3 mm long and were found in North Carolina near the Eno River feeding on a small fungus under the bark of a dead tree (in the middle of the winter). Phymaphora is an endomychid genus.

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