Joe and Mary Ann McDonald's

Wildlife Photography

July 2007

Tip of the Month -TWO


The Songs of Insects

A few years ago, one of the students in our Digital Complete Nature Photo Course was, we discovered, an avid expert on the songs of katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers, and a real lover and expert on these species. He had compiled and marketed a CD of the songs of these insects, and now, he's done himself one step better, for Wil Hershberger, in conjunction with his co-author Lang Elliott, have produced a fabulous book aptly titled, The Songs of Insects.

There are a couple of reasons why I'm raving about this book. One, I like insects, and I like to photograph them. Large, colorful, conspicuous insects are among the most fun to shoot, but the dilemna in doing so is it is often difficult to identify the species. Presently I use several guides, including the Kaufman Field Guide I mentioned earlier, as well as field guide books on butterflies, dragonflies, and miscellaneous general guides. One of these is a field guide devoted to Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets of the US, which I felt was handy (and is) for identification. However, in comparing that book with The Songs of Insects I found that there three common species of Trigs - while only two were shown in the Field Guide. So, what's a Trig? I'd seen, and filmed, my first one just last year, and I only suspected it was some type of cricket, which it is, and which Wil's book so handsomely illustrates.

The images in the book are simply outstanding. Last year, Wil won a Highly Commended (really, a Third Place) in the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (there are nearly 20,000 entries, and about 80 winners), and the photos by he and Elliott are wonderful - good behavior, SHARP, and well lighted. I've done this type of work, and I just can't imagine concentrating on these subjects -- it is so tough. Additionally, though, many of the species are illustrated against a pure white background, clearly illuminating every aspect of the insect. For identification, you just can't beat that style.

While the book claims to illustrate only the common singing insects, I felt like an idiot as I learned that there are twelve species of what I've always lumped as 'annual' cicadas, and 17 species of Katydid types - I've struggled to identify a handful. As an identification assist, the book will be invaluable, and as an inspiration for taking better insect photographs, well, as the commercial goes, it's priceless.

Fully illustrated, and I mean fully, complete with a great CD of songs, and wonderfully indexed, this 228 page book is a steal at its cover price of $19.95. It's available at bookstores, Amazon, and at You might be able to get an autographed copy, too, by contacting Wil direct at You'll love it.


Our Past Photo Tips of the Month:


Photoshop CS3 Upgrade
Framing with a Telephoto Against a Desert Sunrise

Adobe Photoshop LIGHTROOM
Workflow and Workload - You Can Keep Ahead
Bring along a Point N Shoot

Backing Up Your Digital Files - you'll need more than you think
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
maximizing depth of field digitally
Capture 1's Most Useful Features
DIGITAL Photographing scenes with extreme exposure values
Effective Cloning in Adobe CS2

Watch Your Backgrounds - The potential of composites or shooting in RAW format
DIGITAL -Shoot for the Future
DIGITAL-Shoot for the Future, Part II
The Helicon Focus Filter Revisited



A Great Insect Field Guide 
Action Wildlife Photography Camera Settings
The Pond-A Must-See shooting Location in southern Arizona
Don't take in baby wild animals
Seize the Moment!
Take a Workshop First
  Luck, what is it?
At the Pulse of Life by Fritz Polking
Carry-on Luggage for small commuter flights


New Lens Covers for Long Lenses
The Best All-Around Lens
Keep Your Head Up
Save Your Equipment from Crashing!
The L-Bracket, the ultimate camera bumper
Visual Echos Tele-Flash for the 580EX Flash
Testing your Flash's Aim
The Ultimate Flash Bracket
Using TTL flash with Hummingbirds
Specular highlights and the flashing frog

Geared Focusing Rail for Macro Work
Shooting in Inclement Weather
Low level tripod work
Sighting in a very, very long lens
Padding Your WimberleyTripod Head
Using The Wimberley Gimbal head with a camera body

Wimberley 400 and 600mm IS plate
How do we protect our gear from dust, and carry our gear when on safari
How do you shoot the Moon?

If you see it, it's too late -- a lesson in anticipation
Protecting your long lens from SAND, the pleasures of beach photography
Maximum Depth of Field and Hyperfocal Distance - they're not the same thing!
A great depth of field guide
Carry Your Gear!
Custom Function 4-1 for Nikon and Canon shooters
Sigma's 120-300 f2.8 APO zoom telephoto lens


A Car Tip that could Save Your Life
A Great Website for Information - the Singapore Nature Photography Society
Airline Carry-On Luggage -Let your concerns be heard!

Ask Questions Before You Go
Liquids in your Levels - TSA Warnings!

Disconnect -- travel precautions
Photograph America Newsletter
Obey the Rules
Wildlife Portraiture
Drying out boots with newspaper
Removing Cactus Spines

The Ti Chi Stalk
Photographing Critically Endangered Sites
The Sibley Bird Guides



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