Readers’ wildlife photographs

Today we have a fantastic set of photos from reader Linden Gledhill (flickr site here, professional website here, and don’t miss his macro photos of butterfly wings), along with a pic of setup he uses to photograph the insects (last photo). Linden’s notes are indented:

I noticed you had run out of readers’ nature photos to post.  I just got back from Costa Rica and thought I would send you a few hummingbird photos taken using both high speed flash and natural light.  

Green-breasted Mango (Anthracothorax prevostii), male:


White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), male (two photos):



White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora), female:


Violet-crowned Woodnymph, (Thalurania colombica colombica), male (two photos):



Not sure about this one, I’ve only just started photographing birds and have a lot to learn. [Readers?]


While I was there I also did a little experiment to study the tiny stingless bee Tetragonisca angustula.  It builds nests in fallen trees and is often used for domestic honey production.  I imaged many of the workers entering the nest using a dual beam laser trigger system.





The setup!



  1. Posted January 6, 2017 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Spectacular photos!

    • Dominic
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Totally awesome, to use an overused term.
      I have to save up for a good camera for macro-photos……

      • Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        You don’t necessarily need to wait for the good camera! Point and clicks are surprisingly good for macro photography.

        • Mark Sturtevant
          Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          Also a basic SLR or similar camera, with a small lens mounted on inexpensive extension tubes. Those will bring in big bugs, medium, and small bugs.

          • Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

            My weapon of choice is the Raynox filter, which probably doesn’t provide as much depth of field as other methods, but gives terrific flexibility for switching between macros and longer distance photography.

            • Mark Sturtevant
              Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

              I agree. These are very convenient for that reason. I also had good results with that on a long telephoto lens, making it behave much like a macro lens.

            • gravelinspector-Aidan
              Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

              Hmm, hadn’t head of those before. Are they plano-convex lenses like the “macro” plates you can get for Cokin (or equivalent) filter systems?
              I never brought one myself, being suspicious of the optical quality of cast resin lenses, and anticipating that the apex of the lens would get scratched pretty rapidly. Besides, I’ve got extension tubes if I do need to do close-up work.

              • Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                These are high quality, multi-lens, clip-on systems. I’m not familiar with the Cokin, but you are right to be suspicious of single lens macro plates.

                Extension tubes indeed work very well and are a good solution, of course! The Raynox filters give me great flexibility in the photos I take without changing lenses (which I abhor). There are two types that I know of, the Raynox 150 and 250. The 250 has higher magnification and shorter depth of focus.

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted January 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

                Yes, I noticed the two types. And higher magnification and smaller DoF go hand in glove. Being able to focus differently at 400 diameters on the top versus bottom of a 30-micron thick slice of rock is something that not many of my colleagues picked up on the amazingness of.

              • Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

                For example, these photos were taken with the Raynox 150 (and some were cropped later):

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted January 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

                Those are some beautiful shots. “Sweet sweat bee paydirt” indeed!

              • Posted January 6, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

                High-quality close-up lenses like the Raynox have an important advantage (or disadvantage, depending on the subject) over extension tubes. The close-up lenses don’t reduce the effective aperture as much as extension tubes do, for a given amount of magnification. This means they don’t cause as much diffraction. That’s good, it measn sharper photos in the regions where the subject is in focus. But it is also bad because less of the subject is in focus, You can fix that by stopping the lens down more, though that erases the gain against diffraction. Or you can use “focus stacking” (now available internally in some cameras like the recent Olympus models, but always possible manually using Photoshop or special software) which uses multiple images, focused at different points, and combines the sharp portions of each image into a new image that is completely sharp from front to back. Won’t work for moving things though.

  2. bkcitta
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I thought flash was not good for the hummingbirds, but I don’t know. Great great photos. What camera do you use?

    • Posted January 6, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      I’m using a Canon EOS 5DS R, and in most cases, for the hummingbirds, a 500mm lens with a 1.4x extender. The flashes were used at 1/64th power which gives an extremely short duration flash in order to stop wing motion. I’ve not seen any evidence or behavior which suggests this would cause harm. Especially as these were taken in daylight and the total exposure is less than ambient light in full sun. I also found the birds twitched more from the sound of the camera than they did from the flash which often caused me to miss shots.

      • bkcitta
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Sent a reply,…hit ‘send’., but doesn’t show as it went through…

      • bkcitta
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for sharing! Reason for asking regarding flash is that at the Sonogram Desert Museum Hummingbird Exhibit, flash is prohibited. Thanks for explaining! These photos are absolutely amazing and quite impressive! Hope they get nominated for hummingbirds photos by those who do that kind of stuff. Or I hope you enter them into photography contests!! Bravo to you and thanks for sharing them!!!! 😊😊

        • bkcitta
          Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Typo.. Sonoran Desert Museum Tucson Az

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

            [Mental image of doing a sonogram on an egg-bound hummingbird.]

            • bkcitta
              Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

              Haha… 😊

  3. Christopher
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    WOW. The photos. The set-up. Amazing.

    • GBJames
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      WOW, indeed!

    • Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      WOW, exactly!

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Yeah, Wow was my response too.

      In the first woodnymph photo I thought the feathers down the front all looked like dinosaur scales. Like they’ve changed what they’re made of, but still look the same as their ancestors.

  4. Dominic
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Can someone tell me why insects eyes are sometimes patterned like the bees here? what are the properties that cause it, & why do they differ sometimes between male & female? Sexual selection?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      That is caused by differences in light reflection versus light absorbance, and the effect is intensified by a camera flash. For some insects you don’t see it unless a flash is used.
      Compound eyes are like a bundle of fiber optics. From your angle of view, you will often see a dark spot on the compound eye as you look ‘down’ one of these ‘fiber optic’ lines (which are really called ommatidia). That easily explains the especially dark spot that you see on the part of the eye directly facing you. I don’t know how to explain the other spots that are on these bee eyes, although I have seen them very often.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Ah, OK, I see where you’re coming from. A better simile might be the formation of “Star sapphires” where many individually invisible mineral inclusions are oriented parallel to certain directions in the mineral base, and their coordinated reflections produce the effect of a “star” floating within the stone.
        Same effect produces “sun dogs” by reflection from ice crystals in the sky.

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Probably multiple internal reflections within the ommatidia.

        Think of is as like the patterns you see in orchards or vineyards as you pass by them on the highway, with prominent wide lanes between the trees at some angles, and narrower, less prominent lanes at other angles.

  5. rickflick
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Images are all vivid, crisp, rich.

  6. Paul Matthews
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    The unidentified hummer is a female White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga mellivora). The hummer identified as a female White-necked Jacobin is actually, I believe, a female Green-crowned Brilliant (Heliodoxa jacula).

    • Posted January 6, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Hi Paul, thank you for the ID and the corrected ID, I’m just learning about birds, this was my first trip to specifically photograph them. Lots to learn.

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted January 6, 2017 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        You’re welcome Linden. And congratulations on the photos–they are truly spectacular.

  7. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Wow. This is some serious photography ability. And the equipment is pretty jaw-dropping. I am going to have to prowl around the flickr page for a while.

  8. Debra Coplan
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    just gorgeous-

  9. Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos, stunning light!

    Linden is famous (at least among macro photographers) for his high-magnification butterfly scales, like these:

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      Do click on this link. More wonders to be seen.

  10. Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Amazing photos, thanks for sharing them.

  11. Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:46 am | Permalink


  12. Andrea Kenner
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    These images are spectacular!

  13. Claudia Baker
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Stunning pictures.

  14. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    I agree with everyone — “spectacular,” “stunning,” “amazing.

    If anyone happens to know anything about Old World stingless bees, especially how late they could have existed in Northern Africa, please let me know.

  15. Posted January 6, 2017 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Once again, I wonder about the colours. Astonishing!

  16. Christopher Bonds
    Posted January 6, 2017 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking at the equipment setup and it’s so beyond anything I can conceive, it might as well be part of a Mars rover!

  17. Posted January 6, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    Breathtaking, bejeweled wonders! Thank you.

  18. cruzrad
    Posted January 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic! Thanks!

%d bloggers like this: