Canon 300D Rebel, handheld
Mamiya 80mm at f11
Metz 40MZ-3i flash off-camera
1/200 second at ISO 100

In the pink
Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis on pink azalea blossom

I lived at a place for a while that had a pair of azalea bushes alongside the front door, and over a couple of years they hosted hatchings of praying mantises; thus began a trend. The hatching of the egg cases generally coincided with the blooming season of the azaleas, so I had the opportunity to frame the newborns among the bright colors of the flowers. Shortly after a rain one morning, one tiny mantis cut across a beaded blossom and briefly provided a pose that I was happy to take advantage of.

I encourage budding photographers to closely examine the photos they like to try and determine what the appealing qualities are; this helps to bring a subconscious reaction to the forefront, hopefully sparking the ability to consciously produce the same traits from subsequent images. When I look at this one, I wonder what it is that works so well (for me, anyway.) The Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) is distinctly different in color from the flower, but small enough and close enough to the center to still be low key. Its position and curve seem to almost mimic several existing curves – think of how different it would have appeared just about anywhere else. While it's a top-down shot that is too typical of insect photos and thus something I try to avoid, there's still a hint of a face angle and a sense of activity from the mantis. Even the water drops mostly form an accent to the composition without interfering with any aspect. And of course, the pink and the green set off one another nicely.

So okay, that's not the kind of spiritual rhapsody able to be found on the sites of many 'arteests,' but I consider that a good thing myself...