Jim Thomson | On the hunt for insects

February and March are usually our best months for insects.

At that time of year there has usually been enough rain to fill the dams and swamps, making it an exciting time to hunt for insects with impact.

But yes, I said “usually”. Not this year.

No, this time around the rain didn’t arrive until June which is far too late for insects in the Hunter. A pity because the previous year there was rain and it meant some stunning insect images. 

Early starts are the key to success. I usually arrive at the swamp just before dawn, I use thigh waders and with the use of my head lamp search along the edges of the swamp, pinpointing my subjects.

If you are lucky you will find dragonflies hatching just below the chuck and drying their wing cases. They can make dramatic images.

When the early light arrives, you also find all sorts of insects, pairing damsel flies, robber flies and various other subjects.

It’s very important that you are prepared with your photographic equipment - macro lens, tripod (preferably one that goes down to ground level), flash on camera, and a small back flash for back light which also helps with separation.

The main thing to remember at that time of the morning is the changing light, so you continually have to check your light. Underexposed images can have problems with grain so you must check all the time.

The best time for good shots is just as the Sun rises, offering great back light. A bit fill flash on front gives you stunning images. Once again bracket your shots.

I prefer to use manual settings with insects and short duration on my flash stops any movement,

Sharpness is the next key point. In the morning early you usually have time to take the shots, playing about with exposure etc, but as the Sun rises the insects become active and take off, making it harder to get the shots.

At this time you might have to crawl in on the subject as they will take off with any movement.

So remember, have your gear all ready, check the night before, get on site early, take your time with every shot and look for perfection.

Now let’s hope for some rain.