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Macro Photography: Mosquitoes Emerging

Brothers William and Matthew Burrard-Lucas are up and coming wildlife photographers from the UK. Their unique approach to wildlife photography involves working as a team to take imaginative and unusual photographs of wild animals. You can find out more about them on their website, Burrard-Lucas Wildlife Photography. In this guest post they talk about how they captured these incredible images of mosquitoes hatching.

As is the case with most of our macro photos, the inspiration behind this series came from getting outside and actively searching for subjects – you can’t always expect to come up with good ideas whilst sitting around!

We were looking for subjects in our garden in the UK when we noticed some mosquito larvae developing in a pot of stagnant water. We did a bit of research into their development and discovered that it takes about 1-2 weeks (depending on the temperature) for them to develop into the adult form that we all know and love! This was perfect, since it gave us a good amount of time to devise a set up to photograph them as they emerged.

set-up.jpg

Over the course of about 14 days, we maintained a keen eye on their development. We kept the larvae in a glass of distilled water indoors and covered it with perforated cling film – we didn’t want to suffer their bites during the night! Once the larvae had turned into pupae, we knew they were close to hatching. We soon discovered that when we saw one straighten out, we had about 5 minutes until go-time.

hatching_mosquito.jpg

We transferred the mosquito into a special pot of water and made final adjustments to our setup. We were using a Canon EOS 5D with a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens. For the lighting, we had three flash units – a macro ring light and two supplementary speedlite flashes. Additionally, we had two halogen desktop lamps to illuminate the green printed background. Working at such large magnifications meant that we needed plenty of light to keep the ISO low, the aperture small and shutter speed high.

mosquito_hatching.jpg

In order to obtain a strong reflection, we had to get an extremely shallow angle with the surface of the water. An aperture of around f/16 provided a sufficient depth of field, however, this meant that we did encounter some softness in our images due to small aperture diffraction. The mosquitoes were only a couple of millimetres long so in order to get the required magnification, we zoomed the lens in to 4x (this means a 1 mm object was projected to a size of 4 mm on the camera sensor).

mosquito_portrait.jpg

After a mosquito had fully emerged from its pupal case, it would rest on the surface of the water for a few minutes whilst it pumped fluid into its wings. We took as many photos as we could, but we were limited by the time it took the flashes to recharge to full power. In total the whole process took no more than 5 minutes from start to finish.

mosquito_pupating.jpg

It really was an amazing transformation to observe and the project gave us genuine respect for these much-maligned little insects!

mosquito_reflection.jpg

Note that no mosquitoes were harmed during the taking of these photographs!

To see more mosquito photographs and many other projects, please checkout our wildlife photography blog, flickr stream or facebook page.

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  • http://www.improvephotos.net Alex Cican

    Wow! Really awesome effect! The end results are great! Looks like something extraterestrial!

    Well thought technique and execution! :)

  • Barbara Fields

    What extraordinary effort and splendid results. Congratulations on your perseverance and magnificent photos of such dreadful insects.

  • http://katja-nina.artistwebsites.com/ KAtja Nina

    Great macro shots!
    I am desperately trying to avoid mozzies… not being successful!

  • http://clanmanaha82.blogspot.com/ Dy Zach Manaha

    Amazing…!!!. It’s great capture…, love it buddy….!!!

  • Joy

    Inspirational it show just what can be done with patience and skill

  • http://www.coverground.ca Justyn

    WOW! I absolutely hate all bugs, especially Mosquitos…but those photos were pretty cool! Their only millimeters in size and they look like they could be a good inch lol! Awesome photos

  • http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=160692&id=710670662&op=6#!/photo.php?pid=4340398&id=710670662 ian paul

    mosquitoes might be annoying but they have been living in this earth for millions of years! RESPECT to you both for such a great job!

  • jon

    A-M-A-Z-I-N-G
    this is the kind of skill i want to once have. GREAT pictures
    now squash em

  • http://marius-fotografie.blogspot.com marius2die4

    Excellent project!

  • Praveen

    Wow!! great outcome and elaborate explanation of setup !!

  • nancy

    Good job! Come to Memphis if you need more subjects.

  • Deborah P

    Wow! The mosquitos here fly around like aircraft, i shouldnt have a problem finding a subject :-P

  • jumbybird

    “Much maligned”? They kill more people annually than any other animal.. maybe more than even humans.
    Thanks for the tutorial, I’ve been planning to do an indoor setup and this will help.

Some older comments

  • marius2die4

    December 17, 2012 05:50 pm

    Excellent project!

  • jon

    August 12, 2010 04:10 pm

    A-M-A-Z-I-N-G
    this is the kind of skill i want to once have. GREAT pictures
    now squash em

  • ian paul

    August 2, 2010 10:50 pm

    mosquitoes might be annoying but they have been living in this earth for millions of years! RESPECT to you both for such a great job!

  • Justyn

    July 28, 2010 03:32 pm

    WOW! I absolutely hate all bugs, especially Mosquitos...but those photos were pretty cool! Their only millimeters in size and they look like they could be a good inch lol! Awesome photos

  • Joy

    July 27, 2010 02:35 pm

    Inspirational it show just what can be done with patience and skill

  • Dy Zach Manaha

    July 25, 2010 01:11 am

    Amazing...!!!. It's great capture..., love it buddy....!!!

  • KAtja Nina

    July 21, 2010 10:40 pm

    Great macro shots!
    I am desperately trying to avoid mozzies... not being successful!

  • Barbara Fields

    July 21, 2010 09:36 pm

    What extraordinary effort and splendid results. Congratulations on your perseverance and magnificent photos of such dreadful insects.

  • Alex Cican

    July 20, 2010 08:26 pm

    Wow! Really awesome effect! The end results are great! Looks like something extraterestrial!

    Well thought technique and execution! :)

  • Klementine Schoel

    July 19, 2010 07:19 pm

    ... like a scene from alien.

    Please remind me, not to take my vacation near lakes again. :-)

  • Garret

    July 18, 2010 10:15 pm

    Should have killed it afterwards!

    Pictures are great, but I hate those bugs.

  • Moondoggy

    July 18, 2010 12:57 am

    Great images! Commendable ingenuity getting the images also! More please!

  • Deepak Mohinani

    July 17, 2010 03:57 am

    Amazing images! Hard to imagine these tiny alien looking bugs are responsible for over a million deaths annually.

  • Scott

    July 17, 2010 12:57 am

    I've got to admit those are amazing and oh so interesting. I will say that if it were me - as I sit here scratching mosquito bites received while camping out earlier this week - the life span of these mosquitoes would be about 5 minutes.

  • Ashish

    July 16, 2010 07:40 pm

    Amazing... Inspired to think out of box..

    A very different views of this nasty beast. Never thought they could look so beautiful.

  • Ian Southward

    July 16, 2010 06:27 pm

    We all hate mosquitoes but the clarity and subject content was amazing, I was captured with the colours of the eyes, and the guys who worked on this must be so happy with the outcome. I would be! just kill the little sod before you turn the lights out! :-)

  • NO3O5

    July 16, 2010 05:20 pm

    Quote:
    "Note that no mosquitoes were harmed during the taking of these photographs!"

    This all happened after the shoot?

    These photo's make me want to run to the store and buy a macro lens.
    I love the detail and the reflection

  • arya@baliweddingphotographerz.com

    July 16, 2010 02:11 pm

    stunning shot ! Love it!

  • Sugata

    July 16, 2010 02:10 pm

    Echoing others comments.

    Truly superb photography. And good educational value too.

  • TSchulz

    July 16, 2010 12:59 pm

    I think I'm with Jed and Celtic...

    I think the images are absolutely amazing, but the bloodsucking little b@$t@rd$ must die. :-P

  • Rajesh Rao

    July 16, 2010 12:52 pm

    superb!!! it's amazing...

  • Jitender K Chamoli

    July 16, 2010 11:52 am

    Wow... Superb work man.. I like this one..gd.. all d best 4 nxt projects...

  • Ace Abdull

    July 16, 2010 11:46 am

    Amazing... spectacular

  • Kulwant

    July 16, 2010 09:22 am

    Absolutely amazing!!! Thanks for sharing

  • Aileen

    July 16, 2010 08:30 am

    Thanks for sharing this. This is so amazing and awesome!
    Very educational for children (and adults).
    You're genius(es)! Bravo!!!

  • Morgan

    July 16, 2010 08:08 am

    Wow, those are incredible! However, being extremely allergic to mosquitoes, I wish you would have squashed the little buggers afterwards.

  • Nando Tampubolon

    July 16, 2010 08:00 am

    Wow, those pictures are great, who's with me ? Really, I love you choose soft green as the background, so it made the pictures great lighting, and you know what ? I'll pick the second mosquitoe as the best from the best. Salute to you guys..

  • shutterdancer

    July 16, 2010 06:04 am

    Excellent shots...Well thought out concept!!

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/shutterdancer/

  • Jeff

    July 16, 2010 05:49 am

    Amazing shots, hopefully ending with a resounding "squish"! Stunning pictures, worthy of submission to Nat Geo...

  • Teresa

    July 16, 2010 04:21 am

    WOW!!!! Who would have every thought these creatures could be so complex and beautiful.

    Can anyone tell me what the useful purpose of the mosquito is?

  • Krish

    July 16, 2010 04:10 am

    Wow. Excellent macro shots.

  • Shelley J

    July 16, 2010 03:57 am

    Its amazing how much patience you brothers have. But am sure being together has helped bring out these masterpieces.

  • Prad

    July 16, 2010 03:41 am

    Fantastico....too gud

  • Bruce

    July 13, 2010 09:12 pm

    Once again a fascinating topic in digital photography. My niche is tips for portrait photography, but every time I come to this web site, I am inspired to try something new. Macro photography literally "exposes" us to an enitre new world of photographic opportunities that is literally right under our noses ( or biting us if we're not watching).

    I would have considered this scientific photography, but considering the subject matter and how well it was handled by these two professionals, these images provoke an emotion response to these unique but also commonplace and annoying insects.

    Great job as always DPS !

    Happy Shooting,
    Bruce

  • Chris

    July 13, 2010 11:48 am

    Truly stunning work. Shows that photographers need to know more than just gear related stuff. They must also show passion for their subjects.

  • Hemant

    July 11, 2010 10:23 pm

    Amazing Work Dude :)

  • alvin

    July 11, 2010 02:45 am

    I am not worthy...lol amazing

  • Rainbow Mummy

    July 10, 2010 09:12 pm

    Wow, absolutely amazing photos, makes me aspire to be that good.

  • Idowu Asumah

    July 10, 2010 06:11 pm

    Amazing work guys. I totally love the images. However, i wish u had killed the darn things after the shoot. LOL. They kill millions of kids in my country every year.

  • Celtic26

    July 10, 2010 03:09 pm

    I am SOO relieved that the poor little mosquitoes were not hurt during this project! There really aren't enough of these beautiful creatures in the world. Mosquitoes are the "sharing bug" that we all seem to overlook and never give credit to for the mass plagues on deadly diseases they have and still spread among humans. Pfffft! Just stupid. Though the images are cool. Damn little vampire a**holes need to be eradicated for all time.

  • Mei Teng

    July 10, 2010 11:01 am

    Wow..amazing!

  • Ramon Marcelino

    July 10, 2010 09:29 am

    Simply Amazing! I think I need to try this setup for my macro shots. Kudos!

  • Karen Stuebing

    July 10, 2010 08:44 am

    Yes, it is truly an amazing project and excellent photography. And wonderful of the photographers to share their set up.

    But they're much maligned because they bite you and leave nasty welts and spread disease. They wouldn't have survived if it were me.

    Maybe next year, a chrysalis and an emerging butterfly? :)

  • Jeremy Ridout

    July 10, 2010 06:51 am

    Nasty creatures!

    But very nice work.

  • Jason Collin Photography

    July 10, 2010 06:49 am

    Very nice macro work....but the subject matter is not the most appealing!

    Some macro work from Florida out in the field:

    http://jasoncollinphotography.com/blog/tag/macro

  • Lynn Mercurio

    July 10, 2010 05:18 am

    While I appreciate the creativity that went into these awesome photographs, I think I may be plagued with nightmares of those horrid creatures. I could have gone my entire life happily ignorant of their up-close creepiness.

    Awesome job though on capturing them in such a personal way.

  • Jamie M.

    July 10, 2010 04:52 am

    I never in my life thought I would find a mosquito beautiful, but WOW those are amazing pictures.

  • Tracylynn2u

    July 10, 2010 04:08 am

    This is what I aspire to in my photography. One day! Your patience is astounding...

  • shannon

    July 10, 2010 04:00 am

    Something so annoying photographed beautifully.

  • Lynne

    July 10, 2010 03:14 am

    Incredible!

  • James N

    July 10, 2010 02:14 am

    @Jed.......Although they only stated that the mozzies weren't harmed 'during' the taking of the photos. :)

  • John

    July 10, 2010 01:48 am

    Absolutely stunning pictures!

  • Susie

    July 10, 2010 01:40 am

    wow, amazing!!! :)

  • Jed

    July 10, 2010 01:40 am

    Incredible work! My only criticism is that you didn't harm them when you were done. Bloodsucking fiends...

  • sarah

    July 10, 2010 01:26 am

    wow!

  • Andreas Herss

    July 10, 2010 01:20 am

    that is just amazing!

  • Patrick

    July 10, 2010 01:14 am

    As Spicoli said in Fast Times at Ridgemont high, "Awesome, totally awesome!"

  • TheKingInYellow

    July 10, 2010 01:06 am

    Brilliant!

  • Yogendra

    July 10, 2010 01:03 am

    masterful!!

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