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The Power of the Photo Essay - by Dave Waddell

Written By onci on Saturday, January 14, 2012 | 2:57 PM

    A photo essay sometimes gives me the ability to see something that i have never seen before. In assembling photos for a photo essay, i will sometimes come across a series of photos that show me something unexpected, despite being there and aware.

    Usually a few days will go by before I realise the photos i have taken show something interesting. I have also noticed that the photos are almost always taken in a burst of shots. 

    If you take a lot of photos and throw away all of the photos that do not meet the criteria of greatness that most professional nature photographers subscribe to, you will definitely not see much of an animal's character, behaviour nor day to day activities as they meet the almost insurmountable hurdles of their short lives.....but meet them they do and it is that they live fully for the time that they have, that I hold my deepest respect.

    In the above 4 photographs taken way back in 2008, I seem to have recorded in the space of 8 seconds,  a series of shots of 2 Hoverflies that are doing something interesting on 2 different wildflowers so synchronously that it is just too noticeable to be written off as coincidental behaviour given the fact that they are at different levels, one almost directly above the other. To me it seems possible to think of 4 or 5 different things that might be going on here....but as i am not an expert on insects perhaps you will tell me what you think.

So here are some things that i think might be going on in these photos;

    1) This is normal behaviour (counter-clockwise search)  to locate food...... and there is a 50% likelihood that this is true.

2) This is just competitive behaviour (somewhat like a large group of European Starlings that land and check out the ground only to suddenly take flight when one,  perhaps the leader,  jumps back into flight.... only to fly a short distance and land.  And when they spread out, each bird will constantly be searching and at the same time be watching others who look more successful than themselves.  To whom they run because they think they have a more productive location for food) ......and there is a 50% likelihood that this is true.
    3) Courtship behaviour.........i think this is unlikely for i think they are both males...again...consult an expert as i just don't know but i would say there is a 0% likelihood that this is  true.
    4) Some kind of insect communication is going on here.  I think there is a good possibility that these 2 Hoverflies are in communication of some sort for to be out of each other's sight as definitely these photos show and to behave as they do in what looks like synchronous behaviour speaks to that.  For behaviours that are "good" and help maintain the "health and vigor" of  their society are indeed a worthy end in that enviable direction. And the likelihood,  i personally think, in this event is very high.

A simple conclusion to this article is that a series of photos is a valuable tool in constructing a Photo Essay which provides considerable weight when one tries to convince others of the merits of a particular point of view.

......and to all of you.....

Keep your camera running hot and be cool.

Cheers.....  Dave Waddell
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