Canon 30D, handheld
Sigma 28-105 reversed at 50mm, f16
1/200 second at ISO 250
Sunpak FP38 flat panel flash w/ diffuser/reflector

Heads up
backswimmer Notonecta kirbyi portrait

Sometimes it's tricky for me to know how difficult it is for others to interpret my images. Since my adolesence I've known about backswimmers, small predatory insects that are primarily aquatic; they take their name from the trait of hanging upside-down just under the surface of the water, floating in wait for anything tasty to pass by beneath. With the help of a small aquarium, I was able to photograph this one (likely a Notonecta kirbyi) in a head-on shot that shows the anatomy of the hindlimbs, adorned with small hairs to serve as oars. They can breathe air through the far end of their abdomens, which is piercing the surface here, seen by its reflection. The faintly surreal look is provided by both the scattering of light from being underwater, and a thin layer of air that gives a silvery reflection to the body.

"Upside down" is a matter of perspective, of course – astronauts in weightless conditions have no concept of "up" or "down," and buoyant aquatic insects that hunt from the surface find it perfectly natural to float up, having to expend effort to dive deeper when pursuing prey, kind of like reverse gravity. This one might have been wondering what mechanism I was using to remain tethered to the pond bottom – but probably not.