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Portrait of a Killer

Portrait of a Killer
Photo Information
Copyright: Pankaj Bajpai (pankajbajpai) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1470 W: 102 N: 4711] (16627)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-08-31
Categories: Insects
Camera: Nikon D80
Exposure: f/13.0, 1/30 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Map: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): 5 favs. and up - PART 2, portfolio of a killer, NATURE'S BEST, Gems from India part 2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-09-07 7:02
Viewed: 5044
Favorites: 5 [view]
Points: 80
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is one of my favourite shots.

What is a Praying Mantis?

The praying mantids, or praying mantises, are carnivorous insects that belong to the family Mantidae.

There are about 2,000 species of mantis. The biggest praying mantises are the Tenodera and the Archimantis, which are six inches long! The smallest praying mantis is the Bolbe pygmaea, which is only 2/5 of an inch, or one-centimeter.

The name "mantis" comes from the Greek word for 'prophet' or 'soothsayer.'


Praying mantises are about 2/5-12 inches according to species. Their colors vary, ranging from light greens to pinks. Camouflage is very important for the praying mantis' survival because they have so many enemies such as birds, they must blend in with their habitat to avoid being eaten.

They have a triangular-shaped head with a large compound eye on each side. Praying mantids are the only insect that turn from side to side in a full 180-degree angle. Their eyes are sensitive to the slightest movement up to 60 feet away. They have straight, leathery forewings and very powerful jaws used for devouring its prey. They have ultrasound ears on their Metathoraxes.

They have a long prothorax and strong, spiny front legs held together in a praying manner.


Nearly 2,000 species of mantids are widely distributed throughout tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate areas of the world.


The praying mantis is a carnivorous insect that takes up a deceptively humble posture when it is searching for food. When at rest, the mantis' front forelegs are held up together in a posture that looks like its praying. These front legs are equipped with rows of sharp spines used to grasp its prey. They wait unmoving and are almost invisible on a leaf or a stem, ready to catch any insect that passes. When potential prey comes close enough, the mantis thrusts its pincher-like forelegs forward to catch it. The prey probably won't escape because the forelegs are so strong and armed with overlapping spines.

The mantid bites the neck of its prey to paralyze it and begins to devour it. The mantis almost always starts eating the insect while it's still alive, and almost always starts eating from the insect's neck. This way, the mantis makes sure that the insect's struggle stops quickly.

PaulH, pvs, cataclysta, Argus, JoseMiguel, snowfalken, earthtraveler, haraprasan, gracious, Evelynn, eqshannon, fartash, go2stones, uleko, coasties, marhowie, ramthakur, ridvan, angybone, gannu, SelenE, pablominto, anel, kjpweb, nainnain, jaycee, strahos has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Pankaj
I dont need to wright enything here :-) PERFECT! ELEGANT! ARTISTIC!
Very best wishes

Hi Pankaj
A wonderful portrait of your Praying Mantis. The details are so sharp and the dark background show them off even more. Excellent colour and lighting. Very informative note too.
TFS Janice

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  • PaulH Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1137 W: 26 N: 3879] (13882)
  • [2007-09-07 7:25]

Hi Pankaj,

very artistic, it lovely to see some style as well as technical excellence. The dark BG is excellent, as is the detail and amazing colour. Very impressive.
tfs and have a good weekend

Jolie composition bien mise en évidence.
Bonne journée.

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  • pvs Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1127 W: 254 N: 3161] (14464)
  • [2007-09-07 7:33]

Hi Pankaj,

What can I say,this is perfect,well composed,good colors,nice BG,excellent work,can understand why you favour this capture yourselve as well,tfs and have a nice weekend


Hi Pankaj,
Amazing macro!
It's so good the clear and sharp details seen on the insect, specially the way it seems o look at the camera.
Very good lighting job and exposure choice.
Well done and thanks for share it.
My best regards,

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  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-09-07 7:52]

Hello Pankaj,
Superb capture of a species of Praying Mantis with extraordinary sharpness and DOF, which makes the night-time effect of flash look trivial. Great composition and POV.
Well done, thanks and have a nice weekend!

Hi Pankaj,
Fine composition with great POV of this Mantis.
Good focus detail.

Hello Pankaj,

An exceptional shot from you! I enjoyed the notes immensely! Very interesting! I was so impressed because I myself photographed a mantis last Sunday and wanted to learn more about this great predators of the beetle world.
Your picture is so aesthetically pleasing. I love the composition and the colors and the effect achieved by lighting the foreground with the flash and exposing the background using the aperture is great. The pose of the mantis with that "killer" look at the camera is also very good! You did an outstanding job! Thank you!

With Friendly Regards,

Hello Pankaj,
Excellent shot indeed!
perfect sharpness, awesome green colour and details
very well done and well seen

The flash was your friend in this shot Pankaj. Had you turned down the intensity a bit? I don't detect any glare. It is simple a wonderful photograph. The color, the sharpness and presentation are superb.

Evelynn : )

Namasté Pankaj,
This is beautifully well executed shot, I love the POV on this one as it makes for an excellent horizontal format. The subject itself falls right into a nice focal plane that shows super details. Well done. :)

Yes...this is the way I feel of the mantis as well. A super close in shot and popping off the page. Very good work at something you do so well.

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  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-09-07 10:02]

Hi Pankaj,
this is also one of my favourite shots!!!
Striking image with a superb black BG.
Superb sharpness and details.
Great colours.
Well done,

Hello Pankaj
Very nice shot of this Praying Mantis,
Great focusing,lighting and BG,Welldone.


bonjour pankaj
ah oui tu peux etre fier de cette photo!elle est splendide.
la profondeur de champ est tres bonne grace a ce reglage bien choisit de diaphragme,la tęte ressort bien tout comme les pattes anterieures.

Excellent image with everything seemingly suspended in mid air. The greens of the leaf and mantis are almost identical. Well done.


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  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-09-07 10:20]

Hello Pankaj,
Sure, it'll be one of my favourites too!! Fantastic capture, really smart showing great details and lovely colours against the black (altough normally I'm not fond of black backgrounds!) Brilliant composition!
Many thanks, Ulla

Hi Pankaj

Congrats on an awesome shot. Perfect low POV and the BG really enhances the image. Well done. :-)

Hello PAnkaj,
Superb image!!!! I like the fiine details and sharpness; the insect is well camouflaged in the leaf and looks really nice with black BG. Excellent job

hello Pankaj,

And a lot of thanks for this perfect pic!
I love it!


You have excelled yourself in this great shot, Pankaj.
This in one of the most articulate Mantis shots I have ever seen on TN. The image is just perfect and that pitch dark BG plays a great role in giving this picture its unique appeal.
Congratulations and thanks for sharing it.

selam pankaj, excellent shot and very good composition of this matris.nice pov and bg with splendid colours.good details presented
Well done my friend!
Regards ridvan

Hi Pankaj, great portrait of this killer in great pose, splendid sharpness, elegant presentation, very well done, have a nice week end, ciao Silvio

This is professional looking. WOW! Love that black background and that wonderful green of the subject. Great details! WOW! This photo has class and elegance!

And this is a killer...they actually kill hummingbirds. I watched one near my feeder the other day and I was going to go out and move him. He doesn't need to mess with my hummingbirds! :)

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  • gannu Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 988 W: 4 N: 3277] (14761)
  • [2007-09-08 8:35]

Pankaj, This is such a superb work. Lovely believe me not an easy take and you have just shot is fantastic. The focus/clarity and view is top. Ganesh

Hi Pankaj,
A beautiful capture of this killer. It looks very nice in black background. The details and POV are excellent. Thanks a lot for sharing.

hi pankaj.

beautiful aspect,great quality of image!

Soberbia toma que demuestra que tienes una buena técnica. Formato y presentación inmejorables. Colores y contrastes crean una elegancia no fácil de conseguir. Enfoque y profundidad más que correcto. Todo excelente jeje.
Saludos Pankaj: J. Ignasi

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  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-09-09 5:29]

Hi Pankaj,
I can see why this is one of your favorites. It's a beautiful capture. Very well done and TFS
Best wishes,

Hello Pankaj,
Superb details and a qualified pose!
This little fellow seems to look at the camera on cammand, hehehe...
Fine colours in this well framed situation!
Pablo -

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  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-09-10 1:25]

Hello Pankaj,
That's a perfect picture. A very artistic composition, excellent sharpness, beautiful background. Just great.

Great capture! Beautiful on the dark bg. Excellent clarity and detail with gorgeous greens! Bravo! Cheers, Klaus

Hello Pankaj.

Beatiful composition, very good details and colors.
Nice image.

Jose Luis.

hello ami
tres bonne capture de cette mante qui ressort parfaitement sur ce fond noir
bien vu, merci a toi

Deserved so, its your favorite. Amazing capture. its like this guy came to your shudio and posed for you. Look at him, he is just facing the camera like a trained model. Very good focus and details. Green looks lovely on black BG. THe green leaf is so complementry. Amazing shot.


Hi Pankaj,
Great composition and a excellent BG.
good details in the legs.

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  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-09-13 10:10]

Hi Pankaj,

I've missed so many post being away. I will try to catch up. This is a work of art! Everything about it is magnificent. The pose of the mantis, the wonderful greens, the sharp details, the excellent background. A winner!


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  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-09-15 2:47]

Hi Pankaj, this is a beautiful shot of the Mantis. So creative with the lines of the Mantis and the leaf, they are indeed facinating creatures and make interesting shots with so much artistic potential. Nice and sharp with great colour and detail. top marks.

Perfect shot!

Wow,,,, That is great work!

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