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Photographing winter stoneflies as they emerge from the creek.

The brown color phase of the winter stone fly photographed walking toward exposed vegetation.
The brown color phase of the winter stone fly photographed walking toward exposed vegetation.
Photo by Bill McCracken

The first signs of spring are happening along the shores of clean rivers and creeks in Ohio, even with ten inches of snow.
Winter stoneflies are a member of the Order Plecoptera with over 400 species in North America. On February 24, 2010 there was an emergence of these insects along the Big Darby Creek at the railroad bridge off of Alkire road. The photographer was lucky enough to be there just as it was beginning to happen. They present a challenge to the nature photographer because of their size and being hard to find.
All insect photography requires the following technical elements. Maximize the depth of field, focal plane angle and at the same time retain image sharpness. Choose a small aperture opening and a shutter speed that will capture the insect while it is moving. This usually means an aperture range from f/16 to f/22, refer to your lens owners’ manual for charts on the depth of field distance at different magnifications. The focal plane angle of the camera to the insect body will determine how much of it is in focus. In this case the depth of field is 3/8 inch. Set the shutter speed according to the aperture you have selected. If the shutter speed is to slow the motion will cause significant blurring of the subject.
Details in the snow or background will become out of focus and diffused creating a mottled pattern. The winter stonefly photographed on the snow or ice represents the environment they live in. This specimen stood out from all the others because of its color and larger size. The exposure brings out the details in the brown body, off white wings, and segments of the body. The original image was larger and was cropped for placement and design. The blank area in front is large enough to give the feeling that the stonefly is walking in that direction.
The exposure for this image was shutter speed 1/125 sec; aperture at f/10, white balance is fine weather. The meter is in spot mode and the exposure was set in manual mode. The lens is a 70-300 mm set at 300 mm approximately 4 feet away on a tripod.