My Ecuadorian Friend

A grasshopper hides in a twisted leaf in the dark undergrowth beneath the primary rainforest canopy in the Ecuadorian Amazon

I realised tonight that I’ve never actually IDd this little guy, but have always thought of him as a grasshopper. This was taken in May 2006 in Ecuador, and is one of my first DSLR shots – we bought the 30D and a Sigma 70-300mm for this trip, and suffice to say that my scathing view of the 70-300 nowadays shows how fresh to digital photography we were back then.

We were in the Ecuadorian Amazon, sailing aboard the wonderful Manatee Explorer with our guide Ernesto, and on this afternoon were exploring some primary rainforest. I lagged behind a bit and looked around, lugging a monopod but still struggling with the dim light, and then spotted a stalk with a curled leaf atop it. I thought at the time, ‘if I was predated on in the Amazon, I bet I’d hide in there’, and so took a look. I was nervous and maybe a little naïve, as I thought as I peered inside that a flying spider might scream out and be the end of me. As it turns out, an equally terrified little insect was holed up in there, and looked a little surprised to see Japanese technology invade his realm.

I almost never use flash for any photography, and rarely did back then, but on this occasion I didn’t have much choice – I had a monopod but it was angled at around 50 degrees to see into the leaf so wasn’t adding a great deal of stability. Turns out this was shot with flash at 1/60 second and ISO 800 at f/5.6. The little flash dazzles give the image some intrigue, but I’m not sure I’d do it again. I also was only shooting in JPEG at the time! Nevertheless, as an inexperienced DSLR user – and fairly inexperienced photographer – I was delighted with the result and this is one of those images that spurred me on to do more, much more, at a decision point when had I not found this guy, felt the fear, and made the image, then I might have put the camera back on the shelf and gone on to do something else. So, thanks – I hope you’ve recovered.

(errata: I know this shot has been published before here, but I’m not sure the backstory has been present)

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