Macro Highlights of 2012

31 December 2012

As the year draws to an end, I looked back at my haul – over 3000 scenes captured and uploaded! This is a record as I put my tripod aside in June to embark on more hand-held adventures, chalking over 100 keepers in a day at times. I have also upgraded my camera to a Nikon D800, and switched back to a shorter lens – Tamron 90mm. I have also migrated to Flickr and started placing watermarks in the photos, due to several cases of misuse of my photos.

It is always difficult to select the best, so I’m adopting to showcase the best photos in a list of categories. 🙂 The photos have been chosen either for photographic quality or the beauty/rarity of the subject matter.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow macro photographers who have been trudging forest trails and bashing out paths with me throughout the year, and sharing all the beautiful creatures uncovered with their amazing radars. You know who you are. 🙂

    Jumping Spiders

    The ever-popular jumping spiders are known for their cute and large Anterior Median Eyes (AME), and the most sought after shots have always been that of the eyes!

    Fighting Spider (Thiania bhamoensis) - DSC_9527
  1. Fighting Spider (Thiania bhamoensis)

    This beautiful Fighting Spider is lined by metallic scales of blue, with exceptionally large AMEs to boot!

  2. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - i02830
  3. Jumping Spider (Salticidae)

    This photo appears here because of the details in the reflection of the spider’s eyes. I was covering my focusing light while taking this shot, and my fingers appeared in the reflection!

  4. Tarantulas

    The spiders with the worst reputation, but the hairy disposition has a certain allure of it’s own.

    Malaysian Purple Femur Tarantula (Coremiocnemis sp.) - DSC_6006
  5. Malaysian Purple Femur Tarantula (Coremiocnemis sp.)

    The Malaysian Purple Femur Tarantula is common at Fraser’s Hill, but rarely seen in the open!

  6. Wandering Spiders

    Easy to photograph creatures, as they wouldn’t move much even when I’m 1 inch away from their faces.

    Wandering Spider (Ctenidae) - DSC_6469
  7. Wandering Spider (Ctenidae)

    A slightly different angle when viewing a wandering spider’s face up close

  8. Crab Spiders

    Usually comes with a big face and small eyes, but more distinctly, lengthier fore-legs.

    Bird Dung Crab Spider (Phrynarachne sp.?) - DSC_3193
  9. Bird Dung Crab Spider (Phrynarachne sp.)

    A Bird Dung Crab Spider which lives it’s life looking like shit.

  10. Huntsman Spiders

    One of the most common nocturnal spiders in our parks, easily noticeable because of the large size.

    Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - IMG_7038
  11. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae)

    A very large Huntsman Spider with unique tufts of hair on the legs. I didn’t have the right lens, and had to stitch 11 photos to get this shot!

  12. Ogre-Faced Spiders

    The characteristically gigantic eyes of the ogre-faced spider helps it to hunt at night. Direct shots of these eyes are a must!

    Net-Casting Spider (Deinopis sp.) - DSC_3304
  13. Net-Casting Spider (Deinopis sp.)

    This ogre-face spider has already captured it’s prey and reduced it to a small rubble

  14. Lynx Spiders

    Common spiders in the bushes but without much well-taken shots.

    Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae) - IMG_5632
  15. Lynx Spider (Oxyopidae)

    My first shots with the MPE, kindly loaned from Victor. Turned out quite well except for my poor selection of settings which resulted in slight degradation of image quality.

  16. Spiny Back Orb Weaver Spiders

    The most common spiny back orb weaver would be the yellow Hasselt’s Spiny Back Orb Weaver. We do have several other unique spiny backs!

    Long Horned Orb Weaver (Macracantha arcuata) - DSC_4885
  17. Long Horned Orb Weaver (Macracantha arcuata)

    The mother of all spiny back orb weavers!

  18. Weevils

    Typical weevils look lazy and clumpy, and have a three dimensional shape, making it difficult to get the body in a single plane of focus.

    Long-Legged Weevil (Curculionoidea) - DSC_4402
  19. Long-Legged Weevil (Curculionoidea)

    Exceptionally long legs and snout of this weevil makes it unique.

  20. Tiger Beetles

    The fastest running living thing on land. Try catching one.

    Tiger Beetle (Neocollyris sp.) - DSC_2381
  21. Tiger Beetle (Neocollyris sp.)

    The most vibrantly coloured Tiger Beetle that I have ever shot!

  22. Stick Insects

    These large arthropods usually come in dull brown colours, but there are always exceptions!

    Stick Insect (Aschiphasma annulipes) - DSC_9648
  23. Stick Insect (Aschiphasma annulipes)

    Jokingly called this the watermelon stick insect for the green streaks across the body!

  24. Mantises

    Most have only seen the typical mantises in our parks. But there’s more!

    Banded Flower Mantis (Theopropus elegans) - DSC_3576
  25. Banded Flower Mantis (Theopropus elegans)

    The Banded Flower Mantis has a uniquely shaped body with beautiful patterns.

  26. Bark Horned Mantis nymph (Ceratocrania macra) - DSC_6612
  27. Bark Horned Mantis nymph (Ceratocrania macra)

    Bark Horned Mantis, sometimes mistaken to be the Devil’s Head Mantis for the devilish head!

  28. Praying Mantis (Metallyticus splendidus) - DSC_9965
  29. Praying Mantis (Metallyticus splendidus)

    A praying mantis (Metallyticus splendidus) which looks like it was made of a mish mash of coloured metal.

  30. Lantern Bugs

    Undoubtedly one of the most sought-after subjects for macro lovers. I had the privilege to shoot 5 different species this year!

    Lantern Bug (Pyrops candelaria)
  31. Lantern Bug (Pyrops candelaria)

    Pyrops candelaria, product of Thailand

  32. Lantern Bug (Pyrops sultana) - DSC_9086
  33. Lantern Bug (Pyrops sultana)

    Pyrops sultana, common in Malaysia but still exotic looking!

  34. Lantern Bug (Pyrops intricata) - DSC_9067
  35. Lantern Bug (Pyrops intricata)

    Pyrops intricata, the only one I’ve seen with a yellow tipped snout

  36. Millipedes

    Often skipped macro subjects because of their size and relatively reflective body. It’s a challenge to capture these critters well!

    Millipede - DSC_0120
  37. Millipede

    This giant millipede has the most colourful set of legs that I have ever seen!

  38. Frogs

    The usual frogs look drab, but tree frogs tend to show up in interesting and sometimes funny poses.

    Harlequin Flying Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis) - DSC_8938c
  39. Harlequin Flying Frog (Rhacophorus pardalis)

    Harlequin Flying Frog asking to have it’s pic taken. Why not?

  40. Snakes

    The serpents of our land often hide from public view. A keen eye is all it needs to spot them!

    Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri) - DSC_3892
  41. Wagler’s Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

    Adult Wagler’s Pit Viper lays at rest on a lazy morning

  42. Ants

    Ants are all around us. Why should their pictures be highlighted? Because they can be just as awesome as the rest!

    Fish Hook Ant (Polyrhachis bihamata) - DSC_4349
  43. Fish Hook Ant (Polyrhachis bihamata)

    These ants are armed with fish hooks on their back. Not the typical ant!

  44. Armored Ant (Cataulacus sp.) - DSC_9882
  45. Armored Ant (Cataulacus sp.)

    Tiny but bizarre looking armored ant. Almost missed this as it looked like any other ant until observed up close!

  46. Katydids

    Very common in our bushes. But some may actually look radically different!

    Dragon-Headed Katydid (Lesina sp. or Ellatodon sp.?) - DSC_6427
  47. Dragon-Headed Katydid (Lesina sp.)

    Dragon-Headed Katydid, look at all the crazy spikes!

  48. Katydid (Tettigoniidae) - ESC_0004
  49. Katydid (Tettigoniidae)

    Face shots of the cone headed katydids can have pleasing compositions!

  50. Beetles

    A beetle is just a beetle, no? Look harder!

    Ground Beetle (Carabidae) - DSC_6422
  51. Ground Beetle (Carabidae)

    Extremely difficult to illuminate due to the reflective surface. I had this entire ground beetle covered with my flashes!

  52. Scarab Beetle (Cheirotonus sp.) - DSC_6536
  53. Scarab Beetle (Cheirotonus sp.)

    A pair of sexually dichromatic scarab beetles

  54. Moths

    Moths may look drab, but some can be beautifully decorated!

    Moth - DSC_6329
  55. Moth

    Looking through the balcony glass door….

  56. Wasps

    With waists to die for, many skipped these subjects because of their flighty nature.

    Wasps (Apocrita) - DSC_7283
  57. Wasps (Apocrita)

    A wasp duo taking a break on a dangling branch

  58. Bees

    Another flighty group, but when they sleep.. almost nothing wakes them up!

    Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus sp.) - IMG_6896
  59. Cuckoo Bee (Thyreus sp.)

    Sleeping beauty of a cuckoo bee

  60. Spider Webs

    Orb Weaver Spider (Cyclosa sp.) - DSC_4320
  61. Orb Weaver Spider (Cyclosa sp.)

    The Cyclosa orb weaver creates some of the most beautiful webs, next to the Neogea nocticolor (the latter’s decorated web is on my wish list)

  62. Preflight

    Preflight is the split second when a beetle’s elytra (hard wings) open to unfold the hind wings in preparation for flight. Rarely shot and often breathtaking!

    Longhorn Beetle (Cerambycidae) - DSC_5493
  63. Longhorn Beetle (Cerambycidae)

    The moment before this longhorn beetle took flight, almost looking like some Gangnam Syle dance…!

  64. Jewel Beetle (Endelus sp.) - DSC_4395
  65. Jewel Beetle (Endelus sp.)

    Preflight also exposes what we rarely see beneath the wings. Sometimes, they look even more interesting inside!

  66. Mating Scenes

    No mating scene should be passed up for any macro shooter. Call us porn directors or peeping toms if you must, but such scenes must always be captured in it’s raw beauty!

    Fireflies (Lampyridae) - i02865
  67. Fireflies (Lampyridae)

    A pair of fireflies making sure that our forests have that occasional flying glow

  68. Robberflies (Asilidae) - DSC_9442
  69. Robberflies (Asilidae)

    Blue robberflies need not look at each other to make love

  70. Water Striders (Gerridae) - DSC_6985
  71. Water Striders (Gerridae)

    Pond skaters in the process of multiplying

  72. Water Measurers (Hydrometridae) - DSC_7002
  73. Water Measurers (Hydrometridae)

    Water Measurers, super thin and tiny bugs that are almost impossible to focus on!

  74. Striated Tylorida Spiders Mating (Tylorida striata) - DSC_2021
  75. Striated Tylorida Spiders Mating (Tylorida striata)

    These Striated Tylorida Spiders mate in public very often. In this shot, I tried to get all 16 eyes in focus!

  76. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_3393
  77. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae)

    Savoring the moment as the female huntsman spider gets laid

  78. Flesh Flies (Sarcophagidae) - DSC_4146
  79. Flesh Flies (Sarcophagidae)

    Awkward moment when the male flesh fly slips and fumbles over the female’s eyes

  80. Motherly Love

    Another must-shoot scene, would be of mothers tending to their young or eggs. The mothers often make extreme sacrifices in doing so!

    Wolf Spider (Lycosidae) - DSC_3659
  81. Wolf Spider (Lycosidae)

    Little wolf spiders climbing out of their egg sac and onto their mother’s abdomen where they will cling onto until they are big enough to hunt

  82. Cellar Spider (Pholcidae) - DSC_6554
  83. Cellar Spider (Pholcidae)

    Also known as Daddy Long Legs. Imagine a whole family of them emerging from the egg sac!

  84. Wide Jawed Viciria (Viciria praemandibularis) - DSC_7704
  85. Wide Jawed Viciria (Viciria praemandibularis)

    Just before the eggs of this Wide Jawed Viciria hatch, little white bits appear on each egg.

  86. Forest Cockroach (Blattodea) - DSC_0852
  87. Forest Cockroach (Blattodea)

    Scared of cockroaches? Try a fresh new brood of little ones. 100 of them?

  88. Nursery Web Spider (Sphedanus sp.) - DSC_1952
  89. Nursery Web Spider (Sphedanus sp.)

    The nursery web spider bites onto her egg sac until the spiderlings are ready to hatch. Do they even eat during these weeks?

  90. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae) - DSC_2355
  91. Huntsman Spider (Sparassidae)

    The Huntsman Spider uses it’s palps to do the clinging job with a pillow-like egg sac.

  92. Hunting Techniques

    Not all spiders catch their prey on webs…

    Black Armoured Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius malayanus) - DSC_5431
  93. Black Armoured Trapdoor Spider (Liphistius malayanus)

    The trapdoor spider stays in it’s burrow all the time, and positions it’s legs at the entrance behind the trapdoor at night. Trip wires are built, radiating out from the trapdoor entrance to detect any unsuspecting prey passing by.

  94. Camouflage

    How to survive by blending into the background.

    Thorn-Mimic Treehoppers (Membracidae) - DSC_6719
  95. Thorn-Mimic Treehoppers (Membracidae)

    We are thorns. Not treehoppers!

  96. Tree Stump Orb Weaver (Heurodes porculus) - DSC_7078
  97. Tree Stump Orb Weaver (Heurodes porculus)

    The tree stump orb weaver remains motionless on branches or stumps and looks exactly like part of the branch!

  98. Kuhl's Flying Gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli) - DSC_9280
  99. Kuhl’s Flying Gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli)

    Even when observed up close, it was almost impossible to spot this pair of Kuhl’s Flying Geckos.

  100. Predator-Prey Scenes

    All part and parcel of survival in the wild. Almost every subject will get devoured or poisoned some day.

    Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes) - DSC_2568
  101. Ant-mimic Crab Spider (Amyciaea lineatipes)

    Crab spider trying it’s best to mimic a red weaver ant and invite it over

  102. Robberfly (Leptograstinae) capturing a Golden Orb Weaver (Nephilidae) - DSC_1523
  103. Robberfly (Leptograstinae) capturing a Golden Orb Weaver (Nephilidae)

    Vicious robberfly lands on the golden orb weaver’s web and rips it apart right in it’s own home!

  104. Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_1911
  105. Jumping Spider (Salticidae)

    Cannibalism is not too uncommon with jumping spiders!

  106. Crab Spider (Thomisidae) - DSC_3711
  107. Crab Spider (Thomisidae)

    Many cecidomyiid flies join the party while this crab spider sucks on it’s prey

  108. Best Sequences

    Two-Tailed Spider (Hersilia sp.) moulting - DSC_8289_sequence
  109. Two-Tailed Spider (Hersilia sp.)

    A documentation of a 9-minute moulting sequence of the Two-Tailed Spider.

  110. Black and Golden Cicada (Huechys fusca) Moulting Animation - DSC_9320
  111. Black and Golden Cicada (Huechys fusca)

    100-frame animation of a moulting Cicada, awesome to watch!

  112. Best Display of Mimicry

    This section is a celebration of the best pretenders.

    Tiger Beetle-Mimic Katydid (Condylodera tricondyloides) - DSC_1738
  113. Tiger Beetle-Mimic Katydid (Condylodera tricondyloides)

    A katydid that pretends to be the ferocious tiger beetle. Check out the actual tiger beetle below to appreciate the mimicry.

  114. Flightless Tiger Beetle (Tricondyla sp.) - DSC_3083

    Best Display of Colours

    Macro photographers are suckers for vibrant colours. Here’s a selection of some of the most beautifully coloured subjects.

    Sawfly larva (Symphyta) - DSC_9721
  115. Sawfly larva (Symphyta)

    Sawfly larva, almost gummy-like!

  116. Black and Golden Cicada (Huechys fusca) - DSC_9438
  117. Black and Golden Cicada (Huechys fusca)

    Black and Golden Cicada moments after emerging from it’s moult. This colour remains only for a few minutes before it turns black.

  118. Shield-Backed Bug (Scutelleridae) - IMG_7361
  119. Shield-Backed Bug (Scutelleridae)

    The shield backed bug dons metallic colours both on it’s back and underside.

  120. Jewel Beetle (Endelus sp.) - DSC_4190
  121. Jewel Beetle (Endelus sp.)

    We could never leave out jewel beetles in this section, always a beauty!

  122. Best of Ultra-Violet Fluorescence

    Some creatures fluoresce under UV light. What crazy looking photographs could we capture, knowing that?

    Scorpion (Lychas scutilus?) - DSC_8982
  123. Scorpion (Lychas scutilus?)

    All-In-One. Scorpion with babies, with prey, under UV light and fill flash.

  124. Millipede (Diplopoda) exhibiting UltraViolet Fluorescence - DSC_6213
  125. Millipede (Diplopoda) exhibiting UltraViolet Fluorescence

    Quite an interesting scene with that many glowing legs moving in rhythm

  126. Harvestman (Opiliones) - DSC_8109
  127. Harvestman (Opiliones)

    Even harvestmen! This was a recent discovery, so I would be taking more shots of harvestman under UV light in the coming year.

  128. Best Underwater Scene

    Who would’ve thought of shooting the little bugs that live beneath the water surface?

    Water Boatman (Notonectidae) - DSC_7012
  129. Water Boatman (Notonectidae)

    Water Boatman resting beneath the water surface

  130. Best Glow-in-the-Dark Scenes

    Several organisms glow in the dark. They provide excellent photographic opportunities!!

    Firefly larva (Lampyridae) - DSC_9302
  131. Firefly larva (Lampyridae)

    I have yet to shoot firefly trails, so I’ve started taking shots of light trails from their larva instead!

  132. Bioluminescent Fungi (Mycena illuminans?) - DSC_8533
  133. Bioluminescent Fungi (Mycena illuminans?)

    Glowing mushrooms give a mystical feel, especially when they appear in large clusters.

  134. Playing with Lights

    When the light does not come directly from the camera…

    Whip Scorpion (Thelyphonida) - DSC_3141
  135. Whip Scorpion (Thelyphonida)

    Whip scorpion’s outline is highlighted with lights from everywhere but the front

  136. Trilobite Beetle (Duliticola hoseini) - DSC_1826
  137. Trilobite Beetle (Duliticola hoseini)

    Back-lit trilobite larva

  138. Eight Spotted Crab Spider (Platythomisus octomaculatus) - DSC_3032
  139. Eight Spotted Crab Spider (Platythomisus octomaculatus)

    Spiders are ideal for back-lights when they have translucent parts!

  140. Gray's Leaf Insect (Phyllium bioculatum) - DSC_5061
  141. Gray’s Leaf Insect (Phyllium bioculatum)

    Gray’s Leaf Insect with all the details highlighted with back-lighting

  142. Strangest Scenes

    They should not normally happen…

    Cicada (Cicadidae) with Jumping Spider (Salticidae) - DSC_7360
  143. Cicada (Cicadidae) with Jumping Spider (Salticidae)

    A Jumping Spider hops onto the face of a Cicada, both oblivious to each others’ presence!

That’s it! I’m that bad at summarizing, but 2012 had so many exciting finds that dropping the selections became quite painful. lol.

To all macro photographers, here’s wishing everyone a bugful new year!




Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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