This is among the most incredible macro photography of bug close-up we have ever seen. The awesome photos, and breathtaking, amazing macro bug portraiture of Thomas Shahan. He has given us permission to publish outstanding bug close-up of spiders and other inspirational insects. All enquiries and more photos can be found at ThomasShahan.com [28 Pictures]
Hint: Click on the inspirational insect photo to see larger a original version. Use “J” and “K” keys to navigate from bug close-up picture to bug close-up picture. Marvel at the architect of these creepy crawlers.
Bug close-up: “Hanging-Thief” Diogmites Robber Fly
I spotted this one hanging (from one leg) off a large blade of the tall grass I was walking in. As I slowly moved closer to take a photograph, I noticed a jumping spider watching the scene from about a foot and a half away. So I had to decide between the two, and as usual, I went for the jumping spider. I took several photographs of the spider, got all the shots I wanted, and carefully turned to see if this robber was still hanging there.
To my surprise, it was still there. As I moved in closer, I noticed it had captured a bee, and there was a few tiny flies hanging out around the robber. I was afraid I would scare it away if I tried to change lenses so I used the setup I was using for the spider photos (50mm reversed on extension tubes) to take a few photos of the robber.
This photo isn’t the best focused of the bunch, but it was the only photo were that little fly (seen in the bottom right of the frame) wasn’t sitting on the robber’s eyes. Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: Adult Female Cardinal Jumper (Phidippus cardinalis)
Here’s a beautiful and fairly large (~15mm) female Phidippus cardinalis I found a while back while wandering one of my favorite haunts.
She proved to be quite skittish and somewhat agressive – frantically darting around, waving her palps, and even baring her fangs at me a couple times. I ended up rolling up a leaf to make a little tunnel for her to relax in. In the image above you can make out the curl of her shelter reflected in her eyes. The blue of the background was yesterday’s cloudless afternoon sky. Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Eyes of a Holcocephala fusca Robber Fly
Man, was this one difficult! These little robbers are incredibly skittish – an absolute pain (literally!) to shoot. They will hold onto their perch (usually the outer tip of leaves) no matter how hard the wind may blow – but as soon as you get anywhere near them, touch the leaf they are on (no matter how gently) they will fly right away. So I have found that the only way to photograph them is to just stand there and shoot away without any means of stability.
Somehow I found one little guy that would let me get close enough to focus, and 66 shots later, over a period of about 10 minutes of standing bent over with sweat pooling in my eyes, the leaf blowing in the wind, and my hands shaking from fatigue – I just gave up and checked to see if I got anything at all. Out of all those shots – about 30 missed the fly entirely, 33 were completely out of focus, and 3 were good enough to focus stack. I was ecstatic! 3 good photos taken completely handheld in windy conditions at 5:1 magnification at f/8 is no small feat! And even better – the background wasn’t black! Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Bug close-up: Colorful Broad-headed Sharpshooter Leafhopper – (Oncometopia orbona?)
I’ve been trying to photograph one of these beautiful leafhoppers for a few days now.
They like hanging out on the stems of some tall sunflowers in my backyard, and as you walk around the plant, they swiftly move to the opposite side – making them very difficult to spot.
This guy proved a bit more friendly than the others, and crawled up on my finger and let me re-locate him an a big leaf which I held up to the sky and photographed him on. (So the blue background you see is actually a cloudless sky). Once I was done, I put him back right where I found him – on the sunflower. Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: Phidippus audax Jumping Spider
I decided to stop by a nearby RC plane runway on the way back, and as I approached I spotted what I thought was bird shit on the aluminum bleachers next to the runway. Once I was about 15 feet from it I knew instantly is was an adult male Phidippus. A nice find for me, as it has been over a year now since I photographed an adult male Phidippus audax.
This species (or genus if you like) has without a doubt the greatest chelicerae, with a wide range of colors. This is the deepest blue I have encountered, and was beautiful in person. Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Bug close-up: Red Velvet Mite – Trombidiidae (Allothrombium?)
I realize this photo may not be a huge hit with you guys, and it’s definitely not my usual fare. A fascinating animal regardless of the quality of the photo. I’ve read that they can be quite ferocious little predators, feeding on several different arthropods – including other velvet mites – though cannibalism doesn’t appear to be too uncommon in the arachnid world. Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: Adult Male Tutelina elegans Jumping Spider Eating a Red Mite
He eventually wandered to the top of a round sandly colored rock and I got down low to get some blue sky in the background. Not long after I started shooting from this angle, he lunged forward and then popped back into frame with a tiny red mite secured in his fangs which was already busting juices from its abdomen. Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: Male Hentzia palmarum Jumping Spider
This species has extremely long, metallic chelicerae and huge fangs with white hair along the edges of the chelicerae.The white hair underneath the eyes and the orange through the eyes is excellent. A really nice looking species. Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: The “Apache Jumper ” (Phidippus apacheanus)
I debated how to go about photographing this little guy as my usual “portrait” angles would deny his most prominent feature – the beautiful reddish-orange markings atop his cephalothorax and abdomen. I’ve never seen such vivid markings on a salticid before – he was really quite something to see when held up to the sunlight! Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Bug close-up: Blue-faced Meadowhawk – Sympetrum ambiguum
What a cooperative dragonfly! He found a perch at about eye level and didn’t mind me moving in for several photographs. The background color is from a turning leaf I held behind the fly with my left hand while firing away with my right. Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Spider close-up: Eye Arrangement of a Hogna Wolf Spider
Lycosid eyes may not be as clear or reflective as salticid eyes, but their arrangement is just as fascinating and wolf spiders supposedly have pretty good vision (although not nearly as applauded as the jumping spiders). A couple of times while photographing the spider seen above, his/her eyes would light up at certain angles just as cat eyes do in the dark – really on odd sight to see a spider with glowing eyes! Spider close-up photo: Thomas Shahan
Bug close-up: Robber Fly (Triorla interrupta) with Dragonfly (Plathemis lydia)
Witnessing this female Triorla interrupta take this young male Common Whitetail right out of the air was an amazing sight – it simply pulled him right out of the air, and after a minute or so of bouncing and buzzing about in the grass, she was sucking him dry. Dragonflies are certainly vicious predators, but they’re are no match for these beautiful robber flies. From what I’ve read, these Triorla robbers are absolute beasts that regularly take down prey much larger than themselves – grasshoppers, katydids, dragonflies, and of course – other robber flies. Bug close-up photo: Thomas Shahan