Teaching, and learning, insect photography in Colombia

A bug's-eye view of the "Fotografía de Insectos" course in Ibagué, Colombia, July 14-16 2012

Several months ago I received a brief note from eucharitid wasp specialist Aymer Andres Vasquez asking if I might want to lead a photography workshop for Colombian entomologists.


Of course! Biologically, Colombia is arguably the world’s richest country. And- shame on me!- I had never visited. So Aymer and I assembled a 3 day event for last weekend to cover the basics of exposure, lighting, composition, and specialized techniques like time-lapse and focus-stacking. As my Spanish is más o menos (y más menos que más), I was worried about how we’d go. I shouldn’t have been. The enthusiasm and warmth of the 20-some participants carried me and my unsteady Spanish through the weekend.

This female eucharitid wasp was cooperative enough to lay an egg in front of us while we used her as a demonstration of Canon's MP-E macro lens.

What a lovely, kind, and diverse group of people! We had a tremendous time, and the participants managed to take some remarkable photographs. As is typical of these courses I ended up learning at least as much as I presented. Video tips from a videographer, parasitoid biology from the hymenopterists, color composition from the more experienced photographers among us, and (of course) tips on the tastiest national beers.

our happy group

With any luck we’ll arrange another Colombian workshop soon. As this one went so well, I’m keen for more like it. If you are interested in a photo workshop in your country or town, drop me a line.

An Umbonia treehopper is the perfect insect for photography practice: it has both charisma and the habit of sitting entirely motionless through several iterations of lighting and backdrop.

Free Insect Photography Workshop for National Pollinator Week

A bumble bee in the meadow garden - Urbana, Illinois

For those of you in central Illinois, I’ll be leading a one-hour crash course in insect photography as part of our local celebration of Pollinator Week. Here are the details:

Sunday, 24 June 2012
12 – 1 pm
Meadowbrook Park, Urbana
Race St. Entrance

Free and open to the public
bring your camera – all types of equipment welcome!

One-Day Macro Photography Class: Chicago, July 8

If you are in Chicago and interested in learning the dark art of photographing insects, I’m offering a day course on July 8th. The session will include studio work with live animals. Here’s a preliminary schedule:

9:00 Entomology 101 (presentation)
10:15 break & discussion
10:30 Methods of Magnification (presentation)
11:00 Lighting a small world (presentation & practice)
12:00 lunch & discussion
1:00 Working with insects (practice)
3:00 Special Techniques: focus-stacking (practice)
4:00 Closing comments & discussion

For more information, and to register, follow the link:

(Note: don’t be spooked that the registration page lists Rick Katz as the instructor – that’s an administrative thing. I’m guest-teaching the macro bit for Rick’s series)