When is the last time you got up at dawn to see some insects? Never? Well let me tell you, it is an absolutely fabulous time to get out and see what is really happening in the world. Everyone knows that the dawn is the time for going out to see birds, but the birds are really just a proxy for the insects! They are out foraging their little feathers off in an effort to provide their chicks with tasty tasty bugs!
The dawn hours offer the opportunity to see insects and spiders that are just waking up, still cool from the night. I take advantage of this to go out and photograph them, when they are still. I also use the beautiful natural light to my advantage in the pictures.
A gorgeous Enoplognatha ovata on some grasses in Richmond BC
Ammophila wasps are too active to shoot well in the day, but at dawn they are easy and beautiful subjects
Mixing the dawn light is easy with any kind of diffused flash. The sunlight is dim enough that a flash in close proximity to the subject can illuminate details that turn what would be a silhouette into a lovely shot.
The one danger is lens flare, but as instagrammers know, this makes a shot more “artistic”. I find I am often pleasantly surprised by some of the flare effects.
Large numbers of aggregating wasps may be reducing their individual vulnerability to those hungry birds…
The spiders often attempt crypsis rather than jumping off their webs. It works well for the arthropod photographer!
Coelioxys cuckoo bees are a welcome find anytime, and at dawn are super cooperative subjects!
Dawn light can also be used for highlighting hairs.
Dawn is an epehmeral time, and staying out with your subjects allows you to see them wake up and start their day.