Brood X

Brood X

I was out photographing the Brood X cicadas this morning. By now you all should have heard that Brood X is out there in full bloom. Literally billions (1.5 million per acre!) of these amazing creatures are giving new meaning to high decibel sound with their mating calls. I am in awe of this display that only comes every 17 years and this past week I’ve been stepping on a literal carpet of exoskeletons on the forest floor, abandoned by the adults when they molt. I have had so many cicadas crawling in my hair, beard, arms and up my pant legs that I don’t even bother to brush them off (okay, I do shake them off my legs). They don’t bite or sting and so I felt a bit guilty cooking up an appetizer of them a few days ago (more on that in another blog… BTW, they are delicious… with lots of garlic!).

Back to photography. I passed a slightly backlit exoskeleton of a cicada still attached to a tree stump, an inviting composition. I was in a forest setting and the light was too subdued, so I grabbed my portable light stand with a Lume Cube (LC-V2) mounted on it and accentuated the back lighting. I took a few images, but still didn’t like the look. I shoot the Fujifilm GFX 100 medium format. Depth of field is an issue with medium format cameras and macro photography adds to that problem. I was using my amazing Fujinon 120mm macro lens and I find that combo nothing short of spectacular. So, I decided to do a 7 image manual focus stack and here you see the resulting image.

I figured I should also show you my setup as it appeared in the field (iPhone images).

If you’re curious as to what the rest of the gear is, here’s the list:

  • Really Right Stuff tripod with BH-55 ball head and leveling base
  • Fujifilm GFX 100
  • Fujinon 120mm macro lens
  • Fujinon macro extension tube (MCEX-45G WR)
  • Remote trigger

There is a second LumeCube attached to the right tripod leg, but it is hanging down out of the way for this shot. Here it is:

For stationary objects the LumeCube is a handy device. I use it all the time for my studio macro photography. With fast moving or flying insects a strobe would probably serve better.

For those of you who aren’t blessed to live near gazzilions of these wonderful creatures, here is a 15-second video of one climbing a tree en route to the mating symphony. Listen to the sounds of her brothers and sisters waiting for her.

Here’s wishing you happy insect hunting… and remember to tuck your pants into your socks to prevent insects ending up in places where the sun don’t shine.