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How I got the shotShowcase

2023 Showcase Winner: Karen Campbell

By May 23, 2023No Comments
Cecropia Caterpillar's "Blue Croquet Shoes", Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 2023 Showcase Judges' Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Karen Campbell

Cecropia Caterpillar’s “Blue Croquet Shoes”, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, 2023 Showcase Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Karen Campbell

Judges’ Choice: Macro/Micro/All Other

Why is this photo special?

I shoot insects in situ in nature. To get this shot, I needed a ladder and to hold the camera over my head to reach the caterpillar, all while dealing with environmental conditions. Special thanks to my husband for carrying and holding the ladder.

Finding camouflaged caterpillars can be challenging. I noticed a section of leaves was stripped on a young tree. A lucky search turned up this Cecropia caterpillar. My initial focus was its renowned multi-colored spiny tubercles that give it a striking appearance. But when the stem flipped to reveal these amazing blue croquet “shoes”, my vision changed. I shot it again two weeks later, but by then it had plumped up reducing the visual impact of these prolegs and croquets. As I was taking this shot, I realized how beautifully illustrative the cecropia’s legs and feet are for educational purposes.

The technical stuff

I started shooting Olympus mirrorless equipment in 2019. This shot was flashed at f/7.1, 1/160 second, ISO200, using an Olympus Macro Flash STF-8 (dual flash) on an Olympus OMD E-M1 Mark ii with an Olympus ED 60mm f2.8 Macro lens.

Photo credit: Gary Campbell

About me

My primary shooting location is my yard in southeastern Pennsylvania, a native plant paradise we restored from an old corn field and hedge rows. I’ve owned cameras since my teens, but for most of my adult life, nature was for observing, not photographing. I purchased a DSLR in 2009 that made nature photography accessible to me – especially tiny wildlife that became visible using macro photography. My special interest is the interactions of native plants and arthropods. I share photo journalistic stories to encourage others to learn about insects and plant natives, contribute my findings for scientific knowledge, and help others learn macro photography.

Nature photography started as a photo journal project to document bees and other arthropods that found our 4-acre native plant restoration. My first DSLR in 2009 opened a new world of wildlife once I learned how to use flash to freeze motion thanks to recommendations from a salesman at my camera store. Even though my image library now has several thousands of species of flora and fauna, I keep my interest by focusing more on artistry while maintaining a watchful eye for new-to-me and rarely seen species and interactions.

I’m a new NANPA member this year.

Memorable moments

My most memorable moments are when I observe and capture an amazing wildlife behavior. Two that come to mind are: male longhorn milkweed beetles with locked antennae in a mating battle, and a small beetle clinging to a bumblebee’s proboscis that I later learned was there for a ride back to its nest.

Instagram: @KarenInNature

See all of the Top 26 winning images from NANPA’s 2023 Showcase nature photography competition.

Top 26

See all of the Top 250 images from the 2023 Showcase competition in the 2023 edition of  NANPA’s Expressions journal.