Working Your Subject

July 20, 2017  •  Leave a Comment


Melissa Southern




There are many tips and techniques for getting a great photograph. One of the most important of these is simply working your subject.


Move around your subject. Shoot from different angles. Use different backgrounds. If your subject is moving, move with it. If you can move your subject to a better location safely and without harming anything, do it.


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My husband found this little guy out in our carport on some 1"x 4"s leaning against the wall on Sunday afternoon. He had no idea what it was, but I knew it was a type of caterpillar that has false eyes and mannerisms that make it resemble a snake to ward off predators.


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I looked at it for a few seconds then ran to grab the camera and tripod. I spent the next 30 minutes taking a bunch of photos of this guy from different angles. I focused on different parts of his body. I varied my depth of field by using different apertures. I tried different shutter speeds and ISO settings to stop his movement. It is amazing how fast these things move, especially when you are up close with a macro lens.




Towards the end of the shoot, he reared up a bit too far and fell off the wood. I used a leaf to pick him up and move him to a plant around the corner from the carport. Then I took some more photos before I had to head back inside to start on dinner.


Being that our internet was down all weekend, I had to use my cell phone to do a quick search on what kind of caterpillar this is. It is the caterpillar of the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly (papilio troilus). This species is wide spread across the eastern part of North America, but this is the first time I have ever seen one. I am glad he was a willing, and patient, model!




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