Praying Mantis

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.

Taken with a Samsung Galaxy Cellphone


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.

Photo taken with a Sony RMX 100 Mark 2


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;

  1. I mounted my Canon 5D Mark 3 on a tripod with an EF70-200 F2.8 IS lens.
  2. Next I used duct tape to mount a flat black sheet of foamcore backdrop to cover the siding and provide better contrast.
  3. Then I positioned the tripod to the right of the mantis body at an approximate 30 degree angle.
  4. I re-checked my depth of field and exposure settings to get ready for composing the final shot.
  5. I placed my index finger about a foot in front of her face and slowly moved my finger to the right towards the lens.
  6. Her head slowly rotated as she tracked my finger until her head and body were in the classic Rembrandt 3/4 pose.
  7. When her head was inline with the camera I took the shot.
Taken with a 5D Mark III and an EF 70-200mm lens

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.

1 Comment

  1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Post comment