Canon 30D, handheld
Mamiya 80mm macro w/ extension tube

1/80 second at f4,
ISO 250

Subtle, unless you're looking
Carolina mantis Stagmomantis carolina

This juvenile Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) was only about 5cm in length and able to disappear almost entirely within the leaves of the tall weeds that it called home. It might have gone unnoticed, except that I'd seen it in the same location a few weeks previously and made a special effort to watch for it again. This perspective, I think, gives the right impression of both its size and its obscurity within the plant.

Al Bugg shooting a juvenile Carolina mantis Stagmomantis carolinaThese were taken in the NC Botanical Garden when I was there with a student, so after I snagged the first image, I got a few of the student (the Immodest Al Bugg) obtaining his own photos. Depth of field was kept purposefully short, since I knew that even out of focus the shooter in the background would be recognizable as such, while the focus helped draw attention to the tiny little mantis. And it's not by chance that the mantis is framed against the contrasting color of his shirt...

I want you to think about something. The position of the mantis in both photos has a certain amount of expression to it, something that seems to communicate reticence on the part of the mantis. While the emotion might actually be accurate, mantids aren't in the habit of expressing or displaying such – the pose is more a happy accident than an indication of shyness. Sometimes we can't help but believe that other species will act in the same manners that we do, which is nonsense, but it still makes for a great pair of photos, in my opinion.