Masked Hunter Super Macro Focus Stack

Reduvius personatus masked hunter 121 stack

Attracted by my house lights at night, this bug flew into my kitchen window and fell into the window well. I scooped him up into a container to photograph him tomorrow. That next day he was very still in the container so I took him outside to shoot a focus stack under natural light, gambling that he wouldn’t fly off. It’s way easier if you can shoot focus stacks with natural light and no flash. I placed him on a Russian Olive branch.  At first the bug crawled around a lot and I didn’t think I’d be able to shoot him, but after a while he found a spot on the branch and held completely still. He was so still that I decided to pull out all the stops; a 121 image stack with my Raynox 250 lens. If the bug stayed completely still the 121 stack would produce unparalleled detail, and the Raynox 250 doubles the mag of my 60mm Olympus Macro Lens, producing 3:1 mag (FF equivalent). Why 121 images? I wanted around 120, and 121 is just what I programmed in a hurry. Shooting the 121 shot sequence took about 10 seconds with Olympus in-lens auto focus bracketing. This shot probably wouldn’t have happened with a regular DSLR on manual focus rails. I simply placed the camera on a beanbag- far easier than positioning a tripod. I shot at f/4 because that’s this lens’ sweet spot and it kept the background nice and smooth- the deep focus stack of course regains depth of field. The focus stack was able to reveal intricate details that I couldn’t discern with my naked eyes. The scutellum (the triangular structure on the back) has bizarre, alien-like structures, and the anterior eyes glow red in the natural light as if they’re filled with syrup.

The Masked Hunter is part of the Assassin bug family, which have a folding harpoon mouth part that they jab into prey. I handled this bug with care because the sting can be nasty. Their prey is other small arthropods. The name refers to the larvae who camouflage themselves in dirt.

Equipment used:
Olympus OM-D E-M5 II Camera
Olympus 60mm Macro Lens
Raynox 250 Close-up Filter


Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 II
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 Macro
Filter: Raynox 250
Configuration: normal
Extension Tubes: no
Image Stack: 121 images
Stackware: Zerene
Aperture: f/4
Shutter Speed: 1/60th sec
ISO: 200
Light Source: Ambient cloudy sky
Stabilization: Beanbag
Subject Size: 15mm
Species: Masked Hunter (Reduvius personatus)
Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Reduvius personatus masked hunter 100stack

This shot was taken without the Raynox 250 close-up filter