This is a heartbreaking story of a vain, camera-loving grasshopper.
Heinrich was driving home after a shoot in Kruger National Park. He drove on a dirt road through a local community just outside the park when he saw this grasshopper in the middle of the road. He stopped, got out of his vehicle and inspected the subject.
Evidently the grasshopper didn’t fear him, as it made no attempt to move when he approached. In fact, it seemed to be posing, stretching out its long red legs, trying to seduce him.
He took out his 100mm f2.8 macro lens and lowered himself down on the dirt road. The grasshopper’s eyes lit up when it saw the camera. Heinrich used front lighting, placing the camera flat on the ground, and fired a few times.
On inspecting the images on the LCD screen, they seemed to be fine, but neither Heinrich nor the grasshopper were satisfied. The camera just wasn’t low enough – using the 100mm macro it was as if he was still photographing downwards because of the height of the camera body.
Heinrich went back to the car for his 300mm f4 lens. He attached an extension tube and a 1.4x tele-converter to it, so that he could focus closer and fill the image frame with the grasshopper. He lay down on the road again and started photographing.
The images improved because he was using a longer lens and was further away from the subject – his perceived angle of view was lower. This meant that the foreground and the background were totally out of focus, accentuating the grasshopper’s beautiful features.
He closed down his aperture to f16 to photograph from up close and yet still keep the whole subject in focus. Because he was so low on the ground, the small aperture didn’t really influence the out-of-focus background as it was a long way away from the subject and still adequately blurred.
He shot away, until he heard the sound of a vehicle behind him. It was a small pick-up truck that wanted to pass. Heinrich and the grasshopper were irritated as the shoot wasn’t over yet. Heinrich stood up and moved out of the way for the vehicle to pass. He gestured desperately to the driver to be careful but the man just smiled broadly, waved back and drove straight over Heinrich’s model.
Although there are far too many self-obsessed grasshoppers in the world, it was still a sad day – this image was the last one ever captured of it.
There could have been so many more…
From the book: