This page was created for Patti’s brother, Jim Sinnott, who was fascinated by this creature.
I was staining the fence in 2013 when I noticed a beautiful green praying mantis on the siding above the air conditioning unit. Luckily I had my cellphone so I took this quick snapshot to capture the moment.
About 45 minutes later I went to the garage for more stain and noticed that she was still “praying” on the siding. It looked like she hadn’t moved at all. I refilled my paint bucket, grabbed a Sony point and shoot, and returned to re-compose from a better angle resulting in the more serious photo seen below.
A hour later I finished painting and noticed that she had moved to the top of the air conditioner. I recognized that this was a rare photo opportunity and was intrigued by what the results could be. I went back to the garage and decided to treat this as a serious photo shoot;
- I mounted my Canon 5D Mark 3 on a tripod with an EF70-200 F2.8 IS lens.
- Next I used duct tape to mount a flat black sheet of foamcore backdrop to cover the siding and provide better contrast.
- Then I positioned the tripod to the right of the mantis body at an approximate 30 degree angle.
- I re-checked my depth of field and exposure settings to get ready for composing the final shot.
- I placed my index finger about a foot in front of her face and slowly moved my finger to the right towards the lens.
- Her head slowly rotated as she tracked my finger until her head and body were in the classic Rembrandt 3/4 pose.
- When her head was inline with the camera I took the shot.
It wasn’t until I saw the images on a large screen monitor that I realized how fierce she looks. Each sharp spike on her forearms was dripping with the decaying flesh of numerous kills. (Probably from many of her boyfriends too)
I also realized that when I moved my finger to make her pose for me she wasn’t just keeping a watchful eye on my movements. She was tracking that finger as a potential meal and might have pounced at any minute. A mantis is not big enough to bite your finger off but those dirty hypedermic needles on her arms makes you wonder what horrible infections she could inflict on a human.
I really like reading about how photos got their opportunity. This was a fun read through—as a armature photographer its inspiring to see the efforts taken to get the shot. Love all 3 of these shots.