As a wildlife photographer, I’m always looking for serendipitous photo ops, even in the most common creatures. That moment came during my morning walk around Well’s Lake at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Arkansas. The sun was just peeking over the trees as I reached one of the fishing piers extending from the trail out over the water. There, on the wooden handrail, was a housefly feasting away.
Given the early hour, this fly was likely eating leftover fish bait or scraps from the day before. The soft morning light illuminated its iridescent wings and bulging reddish eyes. Houseflies are often seen as pests, but up close they have an alien beauty all their own. I slowly moved in with my camera, capturing the fly’s delicate legs and the elaborate hairs covering its body. At one point it paused, and I got a great closeup of its mouth-parts mopping up its meal.
As common as houseflies are, we rarely take the time to appreciate the intricacies of their design and behavior. With my macro lens, I was able to zoom in on details that might otherwise go unnoticed. Flies don’t have teeth, but they can taste with receptors on their hairy feet. Using my longest lens, I got shots of this fly’s legs sampling its food.
This chance encounter made me think about all the untold insect stories playing out around us every day. Though its life only spans a month, this fly carries out an epic struggle for survival right under our noses. What seems ordinary at first glance can reveal hidden depths if you pause to observe more closely.
That’s the joy of wildlife photography – finding beauty and wonder in the smallest subjects. By training my lens on an overlooked fly’s breakfast, I was able to capture a brief glimpse into its secret world. You never know what amazing photo opportunities are waiting if you walk through nature with an open, curious eye.
- Date: 10/5/08
- Time: 8:35:09 AM
- Camera: Canon EOS 40D
- Lens: EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
- ISO: 200
- Aperture: 11
- Shutter: 1/40
- Exp. Comp.: 0.0
- Program: Shutter Priority