In the world of wildlife photography, it’s often the unexpected moments that yield the most intriguing subjects. On a fateful day in Arkansas, precisely on September 13, 2016, I had one such encounter that led me to capture a remarkable shot of a horsefly. This unassuming insect, perched on an old, weathered mailbox, became my subject of fascination. In this blog post, I’ll take you through this captivating encounter and the technical details behind the shot.

Horsefly On Weathered Mailbox

Horsefly On Weathered Mailbox Here In Arkansas

The Fascinating World of Horseflies:

Before delving into the details of my photography setup and camera settings, let’s explore the world of horseflies. These fascinating creatures have a unique and somewhat menacing reputation. Adult horseflies primarily feed on nectar, with males having relatively weak mouthparts. It’s the females, on the other hand, that exhibit a rather intriguing behavior – they bite animals to obtain the blood protein necessary for egg production.

The Female’s Formidable Weapon:

What makes the female horsefly’s feeding process particularly captivating is the design of her mouthparts. They are shaped into a sturdy stabbing organ equipped with two pairs of sharp cutting blades. Additionally, there’s a sponge-like portion that’s used to lap up the blood flowing from the wound. This specialized adaptation allows them to extract the vital nutrients they need from their hosts.

The Photography Setup:

Now, let’s shift our focus to the technical aspects of capturing this remarkable horsefly moment. To bring this tiny yet intricate world to life, I was armed with my trusty Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Canon EF 100 – 400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens. For added convenience and flexibility, I relied on my Blackrapid Camera strap.

Camera Settings:

Achieving the perfect shot requires a keen eye for detail and the right camera settings. Here’s a breakdown of the settings I used:

  1. AV Mode: I opted for Aperture Priority (AV) mode to control the depth of field, ensuring the horsefly remained the central focus of the shot.

  2. Back-button Focus: Utilizing back-button focus allowed me to maintain precise control over my camera’s focus, ensuring the horsefly was sharp and clear.

  3. Aperture f7.1: With an aperture of f7.1, I struck a balance between a shallow depth of field and adequate light for the shot.

  4. ISO 800: An ISO setting of 800 provided just the right sensitivity to capture the scene in the existing lighting conditions without introducing excessive noise.

  5. Shutter Speed – 1/1000 of a second: A fast shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second froze the horsefly’s motion, allowing me to capture intricate details without any blur.

  6. Focal Length – 400 mm: I used a focal length of 400 mm to bring the tiny subject closer, emphasizing its intricate features.


Wildlife photography often involves being at the right place at the right time, ready to seize the moment. My encounter with a horsefly on an old rusty mailbox in Arkansas was one such serendipitous occasion. Through the lens of my camera, I was able to capture the remarkable beauty and complexity of this seemingly ordinary insect.

This experience serves as a reminder that there is wonder all around us, even in the smallest and most unexpected of creatures. Armed with the right equipment and camera settings, photographers can bring these hidden gems to light, revealing the intricate beauty of the natural world.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer