National Geographic : 1952 Aug
Flying Locusts Cloud the Sky Z49 above a South African Cane Field Lynn Acutt The photograph clearly shows wings in raised and lowered positions, indicating that insects in flight move their wings in much the same manner as birds. Sugar-cane leaves already are notched by hungry jaws. These crop destroyers are a species of the short-horned grasshopper (page 239). and odds and ends left over from busier farm ing days. Now and then a rat skittered across the loose plank floor; swallows nested high on the beams above. We were going back to Nature in a big way. High-speed Lights Freeze Motion Some pictures we could make with ordinary flash bulbs, but to freeze the motion of many of our subjects we used high-speed lights pro viding a brilliant flash of very short duration -a ten-thousandth or a fifteen-thousandth of a second. These lights are the type used in making the remarkable photographs of birds, bats, and flying squirrels published dur ing recent years in this Magazine.* For the speed lights, we had to rig a 40 foot extension cord from the nearest outlet on the barn's south wall, since the central con denser for the three lights had to be charged from the regular power line after each flash. The reflectors were beamed down to the area of photographic interest. Finally, there was a powerful incandescent lamp controlled by a foot treadle near the camera. The beam from this light was turned on the subject only for brief moments at the time of focusing. When we had all this equipment installed and operating, the old barn began to look like a young electronics laboratory. The tripod was set up, the camera and close-up lens ad justed, the synchroflash mechanism connected, and we were ready. At home I had worked out some techniques that looked good on paper. In actual prac tice, however, they needed constant revision. For example, I had built a number of trans parent boxes out of thin Lucite, with sides held together with Scotch tape. Some were no bigger than a penny matchbox (for small insects); some were as large as a shoe box * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "A New Light Dawns on Bird Photography," by Arthur A. Allen, June, 1948; "Hummingbirds in Action," by Harold E. Edgerton, August, 1947; " 'Flying' Squir rels, Nature's Gliders," by Ernest P. Walker, May, 1947; and "Mystery Mammals of the Twilight," by Donald R. Griffin, July, 1946.