How I spent a day getting bitten by hundreds of mosquitoes to get the perfect shot

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Like most good stories, this is a story made out of blood sweat & tears. Maybe just blood and sweat. And clicks, lots of them. Blood, sweat & clicks... If you fear blood, or if you find mosquitoes disgusting, read at your own risk.

As a macro photographer, I am always on the lookout for new spots to explore. One day on October 2017, I took a day off from my daytime job and went out with my macro gear to explore a new location for me, hoping to find some tiny creatures I have not encountered before.

As I wandered through the vegetation with my eyes focused on the ground, I began hearing the occasional buzz in my ears. Assuming it was just a very persistent mosquito, I ignored it and kept going only to find myself being surrounded by literally hundreds of mosquitos a few minutes later.

It was horrible, the annoying buzz became a continuous non stop nuisance, and I could easily see 3-4 of these bloodsuckers on every one of my limbs at each given moment. It was as if they were having a party, and I was the cake. I couldn't picture anything at such conditions.

At this point I believe the average sane human being would have called it a day, returning home and working on soothing the itchy bites. Not me. I soon started to think that this could actually become an opportunity to get a very cool shot at the price of offering myself to the mosquito gods.

I began shifting my goal from finding some unfamiliar invertebrates to capturing a high magnification shot of a blood filled mosquito in the middle of its bite. I prepared the gear, put on my sweatshirt and its hood, and made sure every bit of my skin is covered other than my left palm.

I then kneeled with one knee, resting my exposed hand on it and my right hand with the heavy gear on the other, embracing my chosen fate as mosquito food and waiting for them to come.

Ironically, at this sole moment in life where I actually wanted the mosquitoes to bite me, they seemed to stop being interested, letting me slowly roast in the sun with my stupid hoodie on. Luckily for me, I had already mastered my sit & wait technique thanks to my dentist.

After a few minutes of me being sweaty and still, my mosquito mojo started to work its magic and some of the flying vampires took the bait. Getting them in focus at this magnification was pretty challenging because of the tiny depth of field, and the fact they finished their bites in less than a minute didn't help either.

Unsatisfied with the results i decided to grant them another round. At round two I discovered that there were actually 3 or even more different species of mosquitoes, and they were very different from each other when seen from up close. Some were just grey, some had black & white stripes and some had a pair of shiny green compound eyes.

Once I knew the variants, my goal got tripled as I wanted to get the best shot of each kind. And so, I found myself busy in this human experiment for an entire day covering every aspect I can control: changing the lighting, messing with the background, changing the angle and position of the subject, trying out different compositions, altering the magnification and trying to focus stack for better depth of field - each change one bite at a time.

Eventually I stopped when the sun went down, with over 600 images of my encounters and quite an itchy hand, but I was very happy with the results and I fulfilled my goals. The itching stopped in a few days, and my favorite shot from this day won 3rd place in a national wildlife photography contest under the invertebrates category. Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I do it again? Not sure.

*Please note that mosquitoes are considered as the animal responsible for the largest number of human deaths per year due to the fact they can be vectors of several viruses and diseases such as Malaria, Zika, Dengue fever and many more. I live an area where the mosquitos are not infected, and I kept that in mind. doing the same as I did in an infected area is irresponsible, not worth it and may result in a hospital, Or worse. 

Lior Kestenberg is a 21-year-old nature enthusiast and macro photographer based in Israel. He uses Canon's MP-E65 extreme macro lens in his exploration of nature's tiny wildlife, revealing details that cannot be seen by the naked eye. You can see more of his work at his Instagram account. This post has been republished with permission.

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