Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 35 comments

Mayfly on Dry Stalk 5192

Click for greater clarity, especially in the wing venation.

It wasn’t May when I photographed this mayfly on August 28th at Chalk Ridge Falls Park in Bell County, about an hour north of Austin.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 30, 2013 at 6:21 AM

35 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Wow, what incredible detail in this shot! If I bent backwards like that though I’d never get back up LOL!!


    September 30, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    • Thanks, Cindy. I wish I were as limber as this mayfly, but caution wins out and I won’t attempt any kind of bending like that. Speaking of bending, the one thing I wish in this picture is that the mayfly hadn’t bent the tips of its wings away from the camera but had kept them in the same plane as the rest so that everything had been in focus. Oh well, we take what we can get.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 7:56 AM

  2. The detail’s marvelous. But that background makes me curious. The blue seems too pure for water. It looks more like sky at the bottom of the photo and greenery at the top. Were you shooting toward a branch cutting across the sky, or is the water at Chalk Ridge Falls even more pure and pretty than I’ve realized?


    September 30, 2013 at 7:19 AM

    • The blue was a portion of the creek that flows out of the Stillhouse Hollow Dam. This part of the creek was close to the dam, and I think the relatively still water was reflecting that morning’s clear sky. The pale green was foliage on the opposite side of the creek. Because my subject was so close to the lens, the details in the background were lost and the camera recorded only the two pale bands of color. I’m fond of pictures of “the world turned upside down” because they do give a person pause.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 8:09 AM

  3. All those extra legs and appendages seem to be getting in the way. It is only using 3 to hang on.

    Jim in IA

    September 30, 2013 at 7:20 AM

  4. Steve, this image is a fabulous capture. Acrobatics and clarity combine for a captivating photograph: reminds me of a human wire act.


    September 30, 2013 at 7:29 AM

    • You put that well, Sally. Thank you. There are times when the contortions I go through to get a picture make me think I’m an acrobat; I only wish I had the dexterity of one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 8:13 AM

  5. I’ve been trying to get a shot like this for years. Some may say it’s luck but I think that there is a lot of skill involved.


    September 30, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    • I’d say it’s a combination of skill, persistence, and luck (and I’m not sure in what order). The insect was not always still, so I took kept taking pictures in the hopes that a few of them would be good. I just looked back at my archive and I see I ended up with 22 photographs of the mayfly, some better than others, of course. There was also the question of whether to include the insect’s very long tails; getting farther back to do so meant having the body appear smaller and with less detail. For the most part I opted to stay closer and have the body occupy more of the picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 8:23 AM

  6. ewwwww and COOL all at once, the brain is confused lol


    September 30, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    • There were plenty of mayflies that morning, and some of them even landed on me, but these are very delicate insects and I never experienced any sort of ewwww factor. Had you been there, I think you’d have gone for the COOL.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 8:31 AM

  7. Posture originale!

    Alain ROLLAND

    September 30, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    • Celle de l’insecte ou la mienne? (Le mot français pour mayfly est éphémère, parce que les adultes ne vivent qu’un ou deux jours.)

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 8:40 AM

  8. Beautiful, you’ve captured the ethereal nature of the mayfly.


    September 30, 2013 at 9:01 AM

  9. What a beautiful capture – an agile gymnast!


    September 30, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    • This photograph suggested a gymnast to several of you, something that hadn’t even occurred to me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 10:02 AM

  10. Beautiful shot – there so much detail in this pic !


    September 30, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    • For this kind of detail a macro lens is a necessity. It also helps to have a camera that takes large pictures so there’s some leeway to crop when I can’t get as close as I would like.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

  11. Amazing shot! The lines so clear & sharp, perfection 🙂


    September 30, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    • I’m glad you appreciate it. If you look back through old posts you’ll find other photographs with similar detail, thanks in large part to my macro lens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

  12. I love the details in this shot Steve!

    Michael Glover

    September 30, 2013 at 2:25 PM

  13. Fine detail and lovely background color make this a real winner, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    September 30, 2013 at 4:52 PM

  14. Positively acrobatic!

    Susan Scheid

    September 30, 2013 at 8:18 PM

  15. Fantastic detail in those wings!


    September 30, 2013 at 8:40 PM

  16. Thank goodness this critter couldn’t tell time and stuck around to be immortalized by you. What a dreamlike image.


    October 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    • Botanists are fond of saying that plants don’t read field guides, and I doubt that mayflies do, either: August’s gain, May’s loss. I’d say the dreaminess comes from the background, the softness of which causes the reticulation of the mayfly’s wings to stand out all the more.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 1, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: