Where does the time go?

Do you realize it’s been sixteen days without a mantis picture? Lucky I came prepared.

The largest one is being found routinely now among the peonies, so from time to time I have to do a portrait session. This is at night.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis lookng serious
It’s funny how subtle differences can change the ‘feel’ of an image. Above, the mantis seems like it’s looking directly at you, because the angle of the flash highlighted the compound eyes in a particular way. In the same sequence of frames, I changed the angle slightly, giving the mantis a slight head tilt and moving that reflection, and so now the reflection seems more like a pupil, making the mantis look thoughtfully off to the right.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis looking contemplative
Plus, when reduced for bloggage the facets of the eyes got minimized, so I had to go with a tighter crop to bring them back. That’s 7mm across the eyes, about the width of a pencil. Look at the little ‘hairs’ on the palps alongside the mouth. I love this lens…

By the way, the change in expression/perspective is not intentional, because I can’t tell what affect the flash will have ahead of time – it’s just what I see while editing the images afterward.

And now, during the day.

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis during the day showing different eye color
Yeah, I know the background is still dark – that’s from 1/200 second at f16 aiming into open shadow where the flash won’t reach at full strength. What you’re supposed to be looking at is the color of the eyes, that nice delicate green against the dried-leaf brown of the rest of the mantis. I don’t normally see this – usually they go full green or full brown with nice stripes across the eyes, but I guess this one’s a fashion rebel. I prodded it towards the adjacent day lilies for a better background, to which it was not openly receptive. That’s a mantis glare right there.

And yes, there’s a water droplet just visible along one eye – see previous post about the rain. But if that doesn’t bring the idea home, here’s one more shot to round out the nearly-content-free post, because the angle worked pretty well. Even if it’s from the mantis quickly getting fed up and trying to go back to the peonies where it started. Meddling damn nature photographers…

Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis with evidence of recent rain