I Have Returned

It has been quite awhile since I have posted here on my blog.  I lost my best friend March 22, 2018 and just haven’t taken the time to get back to it.  Gary wasn’t an entomologist but love seeing my pictures and also reading my blog. I know I will see him again when I am called home in death or the Lord’s return.

     I have never had much money to spend on photo equipment.  (I use a Canon camera).  I started using the xTi with the 18-35mm lens.  My pictures just were not sharp.  I realized I had a 50mm prime lens (the cheap plastic one) and my pictures were now sharp, but the smaller insects were just not big enough in the frame.  A trip to the photo store helped me take the next step.  The clerks usually want to sell you expensive equipment, but this photographer said I was on the right tract.  She sold me a set of macro lens filters (1+, 2+, 4+) that fit my 50mm lens.  They helped me with the small subjects.  Now, all this time I have learned that I like the settings:  100 iso, 1/200 sec, f22.  I used the on camera flash to take my pictures.  From my settings I was using manual and turned off the auto focus on the lens.

     After my second cheap 50mm lens broke, I went to a camera shop that sold Canon lenses.  He showed me the 100mm prime, the 60mm prime and others (all are macro lenses, but expensive) and none would work for my way of taking pictures with the on camera flash.  The lenses were too long.  he I saw the 24mm pancake lens.  I tried it and compared it to my 50mm lens.  I took the same photo with each and the colors with the 24mm were night and day better than the 50mm.  That is now the lens that I use for my close shots. The disadvantage is that I have to get very close to my subject (within 3-4 inches) to have the insect in focus.  The lens is also very fast in focusing and I have been using it set on autofocus.  All my other settings are still the same (100 iso, 1/200 sec, f22).  I have also purchased a cheap 10+ macro filter and use that attached to the other 3 filters.  I also purchase a flash ring Canon’s flash ring costs $300-500 (too much), but I got a Japanese made one, YONGNUO, that works the same and I have had very little trouble with it (LED screen acts up some times).

During the time mentioned above, I purchased a new camera, the Canon 4Ti. With 18 MP, while zooming in on the tiny subjects in my photos on the computer, I saw an improvement in clarity of my subjects over 10.1 MP. In 2016, I purchased another camera, Canon 5Ti, so now I would miss fewer subjects while changing lens (40mm with macro filters to the zoom lens and back again). Now I have the 5Ti set up with the macro lens and the YONGNUO flash and the 4Ti holds the zoom lens.

How I take photos with the macro set-up:

        When I take my photos, I am getting close.  The longer prime lenses allow you to stay further away.  I knew from the start that the round “eye” of the lens means predator in the mind of animals, so the approach is very important.  The best way to get close is to have the camera already up in front of your face when you decide to try to photograph the subject (I never, never use a tripod).  The camera in this position takes away the side to side movement.  Decreasing the distance between you and an animal is harder for animal to notice than side to side movement.  Any contact by you or the camera with plant life around the insect can cause a quick escape of your subject or any other creature that you haven’t seen yet.  I have missed many insects that I have never sen before, and some since, because I bumped a blade of grass that was in contact with a longer stalk that was touching a branch that was touching a leaf that was attached to the stem that held the leaf that the insect was on.  Sometimes it can’t be helped.  Sometimes you can catch the insect sleeping and it doesn’t matter also, but most of the time I mess things up.

     With that said, consider the basic….good footing.  Try to plan your approach (don’t take too long, most insects aren’t there for long).  Check where you can step, what is in the way, etc.  Don’t do what I do and hold your breath.  You can get light headed and start to sway just before you pass out.  🙂

     Work on keeping your balance.  As I am getting older, now 66, I notice it is harder to keep a steady balance.  Keep your arms (elbows) tucked into you sides.  Baggy clothing will catch onto your surroundings, but is also cooler to wear on hot summer days.  Baggy short sleeves may catch you by surprise more that baggy long sleeves.  Making slow movements, keeping your eyes moving to see what is around you and being observant will help a lot in getting close.  I have missed many easier and more unusual insects by being too focused on just one subject.  Attached is a photo I took in Florida at the Apollo Beach Manatee Viewing area.  The Lady beetle larva is on the top of a closed sprinkler head.  I never noticed the creature to the side of it until I put the photo on my laptop.  I wish I had gotten a picture of the smaller creature. (Note: The picture will show here as soon as I figure out how to post it here. Still learning)

      I am not a professional photographer.  I may not even take pictures correctly, but I have taught myself how I take my photos and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised when I look at them later.  I can get discouraged when I look at other photographers work and compare my results to theirs.  Then I remember and remind myself why I take pictures.  1) It is to try to take photos that can help in identifying insects, for myself and to help others. (That is why I have begun to upload many photos to FieldGuide.ai) 2)  I like bugs, I see bugs, and want to share them with those who don’t.
And the most important: 3)  I believe that God, created all the kinds of creatures we now see.  (And all the kinds of creatures we no longer see.) I want to show all who look at what I see, the artwork and creativity of a loving God (Jesus), who made these creatures for us who enjoy them.

Woes of the 50 mm lens

As I have previously stated, my photos jumped to the next level in quality when I discovered the 50 mm lens in my camera bag.  I couldn’t take a picture of an insect unless it was attached to my camera body.  One day after out and about photographing, I connected my camera to my laptop to download my latest pictures.  After downloading was complete, I ignored the cord still connected to the usb port.  It was several minutes later when I needed to get out of my chair.  When I moved the laptop from my lap to place it elsewhere, I heard what sounded like a spring breaking in my recliner.  It wasn’t a spring.  My camera was laying on the floor next to my chair.  I had pulled it off the end table on my left that it had been resting upon.  I picked the camera up off the floor and only half of my lens was solidly attached to the camera body.  The front of the lens was dangling by the copper band that contains the wire contacts for the communication of the lens to the camera.  (And that had a tear in it.)  My macro photography had come to an abrupt pause.  My mind was spinning as I was trying to find a way to replace it.  A replacement would cost around $100, (not much really), but at the time spending that much on a hobby was out of the question.  I tried using the broken lens in different ways, but just couldn’t get it to function.  A few weeks later, while sharing my situation with others, a man spoke up and said he thought he had an old lens just like the broken one and he would give it to me.  A week later, I had the lens in hand.  I was back in business, until…..    It was maybe a year later when my camera gave me an error message while taking pictures.  The camera had loss communication with the lens.  That ended my photography for that day.  The following day, I tried the camera and it worked again.  After a half hour of pictures, again the “error”.  The problem became worse until I was able to take 2-3 pictures before i got the “error”.  I was now in a little better financial situation and eventually went to look for a replacement lens.  My 50 mm lens worked one more time for me at the camera store so I was able to compare photos of a subject with other lenses.  I decided to purchase my 40 mm pancake lens at that time.  The color quality was so much better than I had been getting with my 50 mm.  I would not have to buy any additional equipment to continue to take my photos in the way that I had come accustomed to.  I am still using this same lens for my photos.

Photographic History Part 2

My first post about my history of photographing insects left off with my need to enlarge my subjects in my photos.  I did some research and saw how others on the web were taking their macro photos.  This only got me discouraged, because I saw how much their lenses cost.  I didn’t have $300 to $1200 to spend on a new lens.  One day, I stopped at a photo shop in my area (Marks Photo and Video) and spoke with a girl behind the counter.  I told her where I was in my photography and she mentioned macro filters.  Her suggestion was to try them as my next step in learning macro.  $20 is all it cost me to get to the next step in my photography.  My first set contained 3 filters:  +1, +2 & +4.  I went home and began to experiment with them.  I was worried about using “too much glass” at first, but found that using all three filters together really helped me get the enlargement of my subjects that I wanted.  There were many times that I had to juggle filter combinations when an insect was too large to use all three.  So, this is how I played with my camera from about 2010 through 2012.  Next time I may write about my woes of the 50mm lens.

Gallery Update

As of today, the ICBugs Gallery is completed. That is, I have sorted, chosen, cropped and slightly edited through 25,450 insects photos that I have taken. The result is that I have posted 5,089 photos in the Gallery. Not all the photos are the quality that I strive for in my photography. The reason that lower quality photos are present is that it may be the only shot I have for a particular species (or the best that I was able to take at the time. Also, I started with a camera that was 10.1 MP, which makes the tiny insects look fuzzy when cropped. As I have stated before, I do hope that if any insect is incorrectly identified, you will let me know the correct ID. I will research the photo further for accuracy. I am open to any suggestions and comments about this site. I do hope that it is easy to navigate for all who visit. It really has been good for me that it still has been cold here in Michigan. It has slowed me from adding to my collection of photos that I still have not found an ID for, over 4,000 at this time. I have debated with myself whether I might add another folder on the Gallery. One that would contain my insects that need to be identified. As a clarification: my first statement was “the ICBugs Gallery is completed.” That only means the first stage. I do hope to add more folders as my wife and I are able to travel to other areas where I have not yet taken pictures. I hope you enjoy the photos and that the site will be useful. I thank God for His Creativity and thank Him whenever I am able to get out into His Creation to discover what He made.

Photographic History Part 1

When I was in college (early 1970’s), I decided that I wanted to photograph spiders.  (At that time I was collecting spiders and preserving them in isopropyl alcohol.)  I went to a local camera shop and purchased my first (and only) SLR camera.  It was a Praktika.  I do not remember the model, but it did come with a bellows.  I never did learn to take good pictures with it.  (Most were out of focus.)  In 2008,  I sent for a Canon xTi (8mg pixel) kit.  I started trying to take pictures.  In 2009, I got the urge to start macro photography.  (At that time it was just trying to take pictures of insects.)  I worked with the standard telephoto zoom lens (up to 300) and also took a lot of pictures with the 18-35 Canon lens.  Most of the pictures were OK, but just were not what was needed to enlarge the subject and still have the insect outline in focus.  Things just weren’t working out.  While near the swamp near our condo one day, I was thinking about the picture quality and I remembered reading the descriptions of the lenses that came in the kit.  I remembered something about a lens that would take crisp pictures.  I went home, looked through the paperwork again, and found the information.  I had a 50mm lens.  I put it on my camera and that is when things began to “click”.  I was finally getting my subjects in focus and most were looking great on the laptop screen also.  The more pictures I took, the more I realized that I was limited in my results.  Small to tiny subjects just were not the quality I wanted when I enlarged the photo on the computer.  I guess you could say that I was ready to take the next step in macro photography, which I will write about in my next blog.


The first week of my website has been one of many mistakes and days of frustration.  The very helpful people at Namecheap have helped me get back into my site each time I have done something wrong and locked myself out from being able to even view the site a couple times.  Thank you, Namecheap Techs.  I also want to thank our friend and “bonus son”, Mike Hall, for being willing to help and now the website is now functioning the way that I had hoped it would.  I have spent much time this week uploading cropped pictures to the ICBugs Gallery.  I have about 30% of my Michigan pictures uploaded.  I have plans to also have albums containing insects from Tennessee, Florida, Europe and Puerto Rico.  It is my hope that anyone with knowledge will be willing to contact me with any identification corrections.

Thank you, Bill ICBugs Lucas,

Email:  BillLucas@icbugs.net

In the Beginning……….

This day has finally arrived.  The day that I have looked forward to for a long time.  The beginnings of my website to show others the insects that I have been able to photograph.  My interest in insects began before I can remember.  At age 4 or 5, I had to have my jar of captured bugs on the table next to me while I ate lunch.  I remember catching bees that visited the sweet peas that grew on the fence in our backyard.  I would use just one jar and catch as many as a dozen bees in that jar.  (I never got stung until I was about 20 years old and that was after stepping on a honey bee, barefooted, that was feeding in clover.)  When I got to college, I took Biology classes and graduated with a BS in Biology.  I had started working at UPS in 1972 (graduated from Aquinas College in 1975) and my wife an I were married the end of June in ’75, so I continued working for UPS.  Shortly after our second child was born (1977), I was able to start driving for UPS.  That is where I remained for the next 35 years.  During that time, I still had my interest in insects but never did much to pursue my interest.  In 2008, I purchased my first DSLR camera and shortly after began trying to take pictures of insects.  (I am still trying.)

The summer of 1972, I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for my Salvation.  Over the years, as I have learned about Him and studied the Bible, I have come to believe in Creation.  For me, there is no other way that everything around us came into existence.  I believe that creation happened just the way it is recorded in Genesis, in six 24 hour days.  I bring this up, not to have a theological discussion with any one who disagrees with me, but to be open with all to how I believe and the purpose for this site.  I know that many, even other Christians, will disagree with my world view (beginning with Creation and not Evolution), but that is alright as far as this website is concerned.  I would like everyone who visits to be helped and enjoy this website no matter what your view of the world and life is.  The purpose of the site is to show the insects that I have been able to photograph and share the Creativity of Jesus Christ in nature.  I believe that the Bible is clear that Jesus is the Creator.  (John 1:3, John 1:10, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1)  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.  (Gen 1:25)  God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.  (Gen 1:31)  NIV 1978

And with that,  I begin.