October 19, 2010

A bug's eye view: The close-up images of insects that show every incredible detail

Up close they look like the terrifying products of a fevered imagination.

And with their lurid colours, bulging eyes and other-worldly faces these insects can certainly look rather alarming.

But for amateur bug photographer John Hallmin there is a hidden beauty in seeing these creatures up close and personal.
A male Anthomyiid fly on dry grass covered in frost, which look like tiny crystal balls as they balance on his body

Close-up images, taken in the Mr Hallmin's studio, of a black ant, left, and a horsefly with its vivid green eyes
Mr Hallmin has been fascinated by insects since he was a boy. In the last three years he's made a name for himself by photographing the tiny animals he finds in the Nackareservatet nature reserve near his home in Stockholm, Sweden.

Using a mixture of studio and alfresco shots John magnifies his images up to 23 times to show the beautiful colour and detail in his subjects' bug-eyed faces.

John Hallmin has been fascinated by insects his whole life
'It's a pleasure to show people who are not interested in bugs something they haven't seen before and watch how they react,' said 31-year-old John.

'Looking at a fly portrait some people will find them even more disgusting than they'd ever imagined while others will be surprised to find them quite beautiful.'

For field shots John rises before sunrise to hunt for slumbering critters concealed in the foliage.

'Sometimes you'll find them covered in dew that forms in small, spherical droplets,' he said.

'This can turn a tiny, gray, inconspicuous fly into a shimmering jewel!' For studio shots John uses dead bugs that he collects from nature or harvests when they happen to come near him.

'I've found that a completely random approach often pays off,' said John who works as a Freelance Graphic Designer.

'For example the Nomada bee landed in my coffee cup when I was having a family picnic.'

Sometimes it takes hours to achieve the desired lighting for his pictures.

A male Blue Damselfly straddles the gap between two dry grass reeds
'With the sleeping Megachilid bee I anxiously watched it for an hour,' he said.

Enlarge A puss moth caterpillar

A puss moth caterpillar inches along a twig

Enlarge A 5mm long jumping spider.

A horse fly shows off its patterned eyes, left, while a tiny jumping spider, just 5mm across, prepares to make a leap

He added: 'I was hoping it would stay asleep until the sun hit the patch of dry grass in the background, turning it from a drab, dark gray into a nice gradient.

'When it did I had only a couple of minutes before the sun hit the bee and woke it up.' For John it doesn't matter if his subject is a rare breed or a common housefly.

'Almost any subject can look interesting if you only look close enough,' he said.

A feeding hoverfly's eyes perfectly mirror the stamens it has alighted on

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