Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two takes on a robber fly

with 24 comments

On July 30th I spent some time going around the Riata Trace Pond. After I spotted a robber fly on a bulrush stalk and gradually moved toward it with my macro lens, I was pleased that it stayed put and let me take pictures. I noticed that from a certain angle I could line up the robber fly with a spot of bright vegetation beyond it, as you see above. Still, with natural light alone I couldn’t muster much depth of field, so I walked back out through the brush to where I’d left my bag, put a flash on the camera, and returned. Aiming from a different angle, I saw for the first time that the robber fly had caught a bee.

◊        ◊

And here’s a bit of advice from the Dalai Lama: “Look at situations from all angles, and you will become more open.” In 2018, Mercedes Benz quoted that wise thought as part of an Instagram post hashtagged MondayMotivation. According to Suzi Weiss, “The line sparked an uproar in Beijing, and the German carmaker quickly apologized.” I invite you to read the full July 2021 article by Suzi Weiss, which includes an interview with Patrick Wack, who has documented the depredations that the Chinese government has been perpetrating against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 15, 2021 at 4:32 AM

24 Responses

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  1. It’s shameful that Kodak withdrew those pictures – I guess they rely too much on China for raw materials and money talks in the end. It’s horrific that China is destroying the Uyghur people.

    Ann Mackay

    August 15, 2021 at 5:17 AM

    • It’s unfortunately becoming common for the people who run and speak for American corporations to criticize their own country while ignoring or making excuses for much greater wrongs in other countries, particularly China. An adage explains that behavior: “Money talks.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 6:43 AM

  2. A great capture for both you and the fly. Not so much for the bee.


    August 15, 2021 at 6:58 AM

  3. To find some vegetation or a flower behind the object you are photographing is one of the techniques you often use to embellish your photo, Steve.

    Peter Klopp

    August 15, 2021 at 9:15 AM

    • Yes, it is. Usually I look for a flower for color. In this case I went primarily for the brightness of the vegetation versus the relative darkness surrounding it, though I’ll admit the green was a bonus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 11:03 AM

  4. The bits of red and blue in the first photo caught my eye; it’s interesting to see them again in the second photo, where they’re not so brilliant but are better defined. I don’t often see one insect in possession of another, but when I do, I’m always surprised by how closely held the prey is, and how ‘hidden’ it can be. I suppose if I’d managed to snatch supper on the wing, I’d not want another insect to engage in a little robbery of its own.


    August 15, 2021 at 10:35 AM

    • I’ve seen disturbed spiders move away from their web-trapped prey, then come back a little later. Robber flies have the advantage that they’re strong and can fly off with their prey, which is what this one eventually did when I apparently got too close.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 11:15 AM

  5. Very neat sighting and images. I like the side angle one a lot.


    August 15, 2021 at 10:50 AM

    • The image from the side offers so much more detail, thanks to the flash, which let me stop down for good depth of field.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 11:16 AM

  6. That might be a Red-footed Cannibalfly- Promachus rufipes which comes as close to you as Mississippi or an Efferia albibarbis which would be in Texas. I prefer the ventral shot.
    Tough toenails, China. They take offense in more ways than you complain about woke folks doing. And that is especially ridiculous since the Dalai Lama’s quote had literally nothing to do with them unless, of course, they don’t want anyone thinking of themselves which was probably the case. Whiners with nukes.

    Steve Gingold

    August 15, 2021 at 12:23 PM

    • Thanks for your suggestions. Albibarbis means ‘white beard,’ which seems to fit this critter. I probably should’ve submitted the second picture to bugguide for an identification but never got around to it.

      The Chinese government has “canceled” Tibet, literally taking over that country, sending in large numbers of ethnic Chinese to dilute the Tibetan population. It’s clear that the Dalai Lama’s statement had nothing to do with China specifically, but the Chinese government continues doing all it can to keep anyone from even mentioning the Dalai Lama. Dictatorships do things like that. My complaint is against the leaders of American and European corporations that kowtow to China’s dictates.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 12:33 PM

  7. I don’t remember hearing about the Mercedes Benz apology at the time but I wonder if Mercedes Benz ever apologized to the Dalai Lama for dragging his name into the mess. Did MB even ask his permission to use the quote for their campaign? I am guessing not. The Dalai Lama is such a humble person, about as far removed from a big commercial company as you could get.


    August 15, 2021 at 8:24 PM

    • You raise a good point. I imagine Mercedes Benz never asked permission. Don’t you think, though, that the Dalai Lama would have given his permission to disseminate that wise piece of advice, so the outcome might well have been the same?

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 15, 2021 at 8:35 PM

      • I don’t think he would be interested in promoting his advice via MB or any particular commercial product. His words don’t need product placement in order to be disseminated. Mind you, he does have a great sense of humour so he might not have been too bothered by the content of the ad.


        August 15, 2021 at 11:12 PM

        • Next time I speak to the Dalai Lama I’ll ask him.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 16, 2021 at 6:59 AM

          • You should. He loves an interesting discussion.


            August 16, 2021 at 7:14 AM

            • Do you have his phone number?

              Steve Schwartzman

              August 16, 2021 at 7:58 AM

              • I wish! I attended one of his talks in Christchurch. He was delightful, charming, very funny, and had some sort of aura of compassion and kindness. I left the talk feeling I had spent a couple of hours in the company of a divine being.


                August 16, 2021 at 8:20 AM

                • How nice that you had a personal encounter with the Dalai Lama and found him to be as you’ve described. If I ever hear that he’ll be speaking in Texas, I’ll do my best to go.

                  Steve Schwartzman

                  August 16, 2021 at 9:56 AM

  8. I like how the fly is emerging from the dark in the first … mysterious feeling!


    August 16, 2021 at 12:24 PM

    • I agree. The first picture, relatively lacking in detail compared to the second, creates more mystery.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 16, 2021 at 4:17 PM

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