In this first of a series of three posts, we will find out what went into making a winning photo in the 2022 ESC photo contest. The first shot we will consider is the third place winner, Thilina Hettiarachchi with this stunning shot of a brown mantidfly Climaciella brunnea (Neuroptera: Mantispidae). Thilina is an MSc student at the University of Manitoba studying taxonomy of Lasioglossum bees. .
I asked all the winners about their images:
How did this image come about?
I am originally from Sri Lanka and currently in an MSc in Entomology program at the University of Manitoba. Macrophotography is just one of my many hobbies, and it allows me to explore the beauty of insects and communicate that to others. I have a long-term goal of publishing a photobook of the insects of Manitoba. This past summer was an exciting one for me, as it was my first in Canada. While working on my research project, I had the opportunity to assist with pollinator surveys in the Manitoba Wildlife Management areas. This allowed me to explore new, exciting areas of Manitoba, and that is how I encountered this beautiful Brown Mantidfly.
What do you like best about this image?
Among the images I captured this summer, this is my favourite shot. This was my first encounter with this species and only my second encounter with the ever-charismatic Mantidfies. Beyond that, I love the colors, especially the background of Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea). These mantidflies are also not commonly recorded in Manitoba.
What is one piece of advice you would give to newcomers to insect photography?
If you are a newcomer, I would encourage you to practice as much as possible. Your patience is the most important skill you should develop to begin with this insect photography. Moreover, make sure to always get to know your photo subject. Since they are tiny, living creatures, it is very important to know their habits and behaviours. If you have at least a rough idea, then you know where you can find them and how best to handle them. I would also highly recommend considering using a flasher and a good diffuser to enhance the subject’s natural beauty. Shooting with soft and diffused light will take your photos quality to a whole new level.