Monday, 25 August 2014

Grasshoppers, Nothing But Lovely Grasshoppers

Hello! Hope you are all well and have been enjoying summer (although today is most certainly an office day!), well I have been out and about a fair amount lately continuing with both my Somerset, Chapmanslade and invertebrate projects which are all coming together nicely, but as the title of this post may suggest there is nothing but grasshoppers here! 

People often ask me why grasshoppers, and indeed just the other day a lovely chap who was out walking his dog asked what I was photographing, was it butterflies? When I reply no he asked if it was dragonflies, again I said no and when I said grasshoppers he seemed very surprised replying "you don't often hear of people photographing grasshoppers people normally come here for the butterflies and dragonflies, why grasshoppers?" Well here is why: Last year I took what still remains one of my favourite images of a grasshopper and it was completely by chance as I had planned that day specifically to photograph orchids, before I go any further here is that photo:

I was actually photographing bee orchids when I noticed this grasshopper watching me, so my focus turned to trying to capture the expression on its face, and it was at this point that I fell in love with grasshoppers and wanted to really showcase how cute they are! And really that's it, I wasn't able to do much last year due to other work commitments but this year I have been out looking for them in numerous locations looking for different ways to capture their lives and comical facial expressions, during this time I have also been fascinated by the variety of colours and markings that they come in, including would you believe pink, orange and white! So here are the pink grasshopper (more about these later in the post including an explanation), the tango'd grasshopper and the ghost grasshopper (names I have given them). 

Away from the colours, there are so many creative photographic opportunities to be had. The next two images show two very different angles, the first (which is a Rufous Grasshopper Gomphocerippus rufus) peering over the top of a dead plant head. This was a difficult image to capture in focus as the head is not the biggest area to focus on plus on that day it was particularly windy! 

The second image, again a very tricky one to capture in focus (there were many failed attempts due to the wind) but also there were a couple of different compositions that I tried out and this one sticks out for me above the others. As you may be starting to notice by now I like to have a lot of space around my subjects when composing my creative shots but for me this helps to give a sense of place more than the close up images. 

My work with grasshoppers is very much ongoing and will continue through autumn and then start again next year when they start to reappear. For some reason not many people take the time to concentrate on grasshoppers as a photographic subject, which is fine by me as I'm happy to have them all to myself, but next time you're out and you see one just take a closer look. The more time I spend with these wonderful critters the more I start to notice, the other week whilst working with one particular individual, I noticed that as I moved my head to get a different angle it would mimic me and when I moved my head back it would do the same, this game went on for around five minutes!

Now, as promised earlier in the post some more details about the pink grasshoppers. So why are they pink?
Well, it is actually a little understood genetic mutation caused by a recessive gene similar to that which affects albino animals and is called erythrism. The mutation results in one of two things happening or a combination of the two: you get a reduction or even absence of the normal pigment and/or the excessive production of other pigments, in this case red which results in pink or sometimes purple morphs. Although the condition was first discovered in 1887 in a katydid species, it is still rare and not often seen. although there are more reports of them coming in but this could be that people are now actually looking for them!

So here are a couple more images of the pink grasshoppers I found in one particular location, I will be back next year to see if I can find some more!

I promise these haven't been altered in any way, they really are that colour! 

Right time for me to go and get on with writing an article about a bag, coming soon will be some beautiful butterflies like you have never seen them before! Bye for now and have a wonderful evening. 


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