Macro photography in Panama city: Parque Natural Metropolitano

Macro photography holds a very special place for me because it is the type of photography that got me into wildlife photography. I've been an amateur DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) camera photographer since late 2012. Honestly, I was always attracted to photography and I used point and shoot cameras since the film era but I never thought I could dedicate to photography as I do today. My main interest when I purchased my first DSLR was to capture special moments like travels, birthday parties, family reunions and landscapes, with better image quality than the point-and-shoots I used before. Therefore, I became a "casual photographer" and soon  I was being hired to do events, commercial and product shots, and I was hooked into photography.

One year after I started with the DSLR, I purchased my first macro lens. At that moment I was not sure what I was going to do with it but soon I discovered a world of opportunities, literally. A huge world yet so small that we can barely see with our naked eyes, the world of bugs and insects.  Then inspiration came to me and without notice I was buying bigger lenses to capture birds and larger animals, and now I am a dedicated wildlife photographer.

Macro photography (or photomacrography or macrography, and sometimes macrophotography); without entering into technicalities; is nothing else than extreme close-up photography, usually of very small subjects, in which the size of the subject in the photograph is greater than the life size of the subject. In other words, it allows you to see details of an object or insect for instance, that you can't see with your own eyes without the help of a magnifier.

My favorite place to do "macros" as it's used to be called these pictures is the backyard of my weekend's house at El Espino, San Carlos; about 1 hour from Panama city, in the road to El Valle de Antón. Besides my own yard and whitout leaving the city I go to other place I like, a place I already disclosed on my previous post: Parque Natural Metropolitano. Over there just a short walk will render lots of pictures but don't get me wrong, macro could get difficult and tricky, and needs certain skills, and of course specialized gear. The intention of this blog is not to discuss techniques but to show pictures, so if you are ever interested in sharing experiences with me or in asking how I do this or that, don't hesitate to contact me, I'll be glad to share.

My current setup: monopod, ballhead (not in picture), Lepp bracket, DSLR camera, flash, softbox, light ring, 2x teleconverter, 100mm macro lens.



Now some pictures I did on my latest visit to PNM:



The jumping spider family (Salticidae) contains more than 500 described genera and about 5,000 described species, making it the largest family of spiders with about 13% of all species.



The Asilidae are the robber fly family, also called assassin flies. They are powerfully built, bristly flies with a short, stout proboscis enclosing the sharp, sucking hypopharynx. The name "robber flies" reflects their notoriously aggressive predatory habits; they feed mainly or exclusively on other insects and as a rule they wait in ambush and catch their prey in flight.




Katydids

Insects in the family Tettigoniidae are commonly called katydids or bush crickets. There are more than 6,400 species. They are also known as long-horned grasshoppers, although they are more closely related to crickets and weta (endemic to New Zealand) than to any type of grasshopper. Many tettigoniids exhibit mimicry and camouflage, commonly with shapes and colors similar to leaves.

  

Cricket

Crickets, family Gryllidae (also known as "true crickets"), are insects somewhat related to grasshoppers, and more closely related to katydids or bush crickets (family Tettigoniidae) and Weta (families Anostostomatidae and Rhaphidophoridae). They have somewhat flattened bodies and long antennae. There are more than 900 species of crickets. They tend to be nocturnal and are often confused with grasshoppers because they have a similar body structure including jumping hind legs.



Grasshoppers

The grasshoppers are insects of the suborder Caelifera in the order Orthoptera. To distinguish it from bush crickets or katydids, it is sometimes referred to as the short-horned grasshopper. Species that change colour and behaviour at high population densities are called locusts. Grasshoppers have antennae that are generally shorter than their body and short ovipositors. 


 Leafhopper nymph

Leafhopper is a common name applied to any species from the family Cicadellidae. These minute insects are plant feeders that suck plant sap from grass, shrubs, or trees. Their hind legs are modified for jumping, and are covered with hairs that facilitate the spreading of a secretion over their bodies that acts as a water repellent and carrier of pheromones. They undergo an incomplete metamorphosis.




Spiders (order Araneae) are air-breathing arthropods that have eight legs and chelicerae with fangs that inject venom. They are the largest order of arachnids and rank seventh in total species diversity among all other orders of organisms. Spiders are found worldwide on every continent except for Antarctica, and have become established in nearly every habitat with the exceptions of air and sea colonization

 Male golden silk orb-weaver 


The golden silk orb-weavers (genus Nephila) are a genus of spiders noted for the impressive webs they weave. Nephila consists of numerous individual species found around the world. They are also commonly called golden orb-weavers, giant wood spiders, or banana spiders. Golden orb-weavers reach sizes of 4.8–5.1 cm (1.5–2 in) in females, not including legspan, with males being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in).


 Spiny caterpillar

Moth

Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies (both called lepidopterans). It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies. Lepidopteran species are characterized by more than three derived features, some of the most apparent being the scales covering their bodies and wings, and a proboscis. The larvae are commonly called caterpillars, and are completely different from their adult moth or butterfly form, having a cylindrical body with a well-developed head, mandible mouth parts, and from 0 to 11 (usually 8) pairs of proleg.