Whatever it is you’re thinking about at 3:00 am, it’s probably got nothing to do with insects. That’s not the case for Miroslaw Swietek, a Polish photographer who has made a habit of sneaking out in the middle of the night to catch candid photographs of bugs that look like sleepy, exotic jewels.
Swietek is a physiotherapist by day, but for the past two and a half years he has been developing his interest in amateur photography. Insects provide an interesting subject, but Swietek isn’t content to simply snap pics of frolicking grasshoppers; he stalks them in the middle of the night in the forest next to his village.
Taking a flashlight, his camera with flash, and a tripod into the dark forest, Swietek sets out to find insects to capture. Because he hunts them at night, when they are in their resting state, they don’t immediately run away upon spotting the photographer. And also because these pictures are taken at night, the insects are covered in delicate drops of dew.
The dew drops make the photographs’ subjects look almost like they are encased in crystals or diamonds. Their faces look strange and alien-like so close-up, and the effect is only increased by the distorting effect of the tiny droplets of water all over their bodies.
Swietek says that he has to hunt the insects because they’re very hard to find. But when he finds one and manages to catch a post-midnight snapshot of it in its natural environment, it is a very rewarding moment. But Swietek isn’t always sure what he’s looking at; the dew adds such a strange element that it’s difficult to tell just what type of insect he’s captured. The photographer has a book at home to help him identify the insects he photographs.
Besides being stunning examples of nature photography, these photographs give us a rare look into the sleeping hours of bugs. Caught off guard in their natural homes, the insects appear gentle, and even cute. But you have to imagine that they’re never too happy about being woken from a sound sleep by a giant camera just inches away from them.