Thursday, 1 March 2012 By: Jenny Vu

Interview with Dark-Raptor from Deviantart

So if you missed out on what is happening today, take a look at my previous photography feature, which gave a sneak peak into some of Dark-raptor's work and also just some general info about them.
To recap, Dark-raptor is a deviantart account which contains photos taken by Dariusz Kucharski (who also does all the post-processing and uploading of photos) and his wife, Kornelia Kucharska.

So, without further ado, here is my interview Dariusz Kucharsk.

 This received a Daily Deviation in 2011: Calliteara pudibunda by Dark-Raptor

So to start off, tell us a bit about yourself and your wife. Why have you become biologists and why do you do photography?

Dariusz: I work as a teacher in Warsaw Botanical Garden and I am also a PhD Student at the University of Warsaw. I study ecology of wood boring beetles and their associates. Biology, 'bugs' and spiders were always my passion. As a kid, my room was full of different crawling, running, creepy animals. I say that 'everything that has more than four legs is nice and beautifull'. It was natural that I wanted to study and work as a biologist. I started taking pictures many years ago with old, manual cameras like Zenit or Practica. Photography became my hobby when I borrowed digital cameras for my work. I discovered that I could capture and show microscopic animals in a way that most people can't imagine. Not long after, I got my own equipment (Nikon D70s and macro lens) and 'voila' I'm here where I am now.

Kornelia is PhD student at Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW). She is working on parasitic nematodes that can be used against pests. That is funny, because she develops techniques used to destroy insects and I protect them. She was always interested in reptiles and amphibians. Situation in her house was very similar to mine (poor parents). We met as students and shared the same passion.

We do our photography for the leisure and for our job. Most of our pictures, of course, are created just as a hobby. Landscapes, nature (plants and larger animals) and "street" photography are the photos that don't have too much to do with our work except macrophotography. It helps us illustrate what we are working on. When we are writing an article or want to show other people how these animals look like, we are able to do this with our pictures. Also, creating presentations in Power Point with our content is much easier than looking for a specific picture/graph in the Internet. 

This recieved a Daily Deviation in 2010: Galaxy by Dark-Raptor
What in particular do you like taking photos of?

Dariusz: I love to take photos of beetles and spiders, but of course, I photograph everything that seems interesting to me. Kornelia's favourites are jumping spiders and frogs. But in the last few months, we've started to take more landscape images. 

Sunset and indy Sea by Dark-Raptor
What species are you currently studying and why are you studying them?

Dariusz: As I mentioned earlier. I'm interested in saproxylic beetles (saproxylic - connected with dead or dying wood). These animals are very important in nutrient cycles and many of them are rare and threatened with extinction. I focus on bark beetles that develop on Norway spruce. Despite the fact that they are treated as pests by humans, they help forests become more natural.

Nematodes and insects parasites are Kornelia's domain. She researches how to use them (with addition of gold and silver nanoparticles) in pest management. It can't be called her passion, but in her work she can use different types of microscopes that helps us discover the microworld and her projects are more 'practical' than something I do.

What camera and equipment do you use when taking macro photos?

Dariusz: For macrophotography we are using different cameras and lenses. We started with Nikon D70s, after few years D200 and now D700. Most of our pictures were taken with Nikkor Micro 105/2.8D lens but we also use different 'inventions' like old, manual M42 lenses (Takumar 50/4, Industar-61L 50/2.8, reversed wide-angle Takumar 28/2.8). To get greater magnifications, extension tubes and M42 bellows are also being used. As a main source of light we use external speedlight Nikon SB-800, but sometimes we mix it with natural light or shoot without artificial light.
To have softer lighting we take pictures with a home-made diffuser and bounce it with pieces of white paper or aluminium foil. Here you can find how we take indoor session: [link]

Evarcha arcuata VI by Dark-Raptor

Can you describe to us what your 
"Machine gun MG-42" is?
Dariusz: The "Machine gun" is used for extreme magnifications. Bellows, extension tubes and lens. For this picture (the one below) I used Pentacon 200/4 lens to make it look more like a machine gun. In reality I prefer reversed wide-angle lenses and it looks like this: [link]

"Machine gun MG-42"
What are your favourite insects? 
Are they the beetles you are studying?

Dariusz: Yes. My favourite beetle groups are longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae), stag beetles (Lucanidae) and silphid beetles (Silphidae). But of course there are many more insects I love, but the list would be too long.

And what about your wife? 
You mentioned that she has an interest in reptiles and amphibians, which frogs or reptiles does she find most interesting?

Dariusz: Kornelia loves tree frogs. Her dream is to take picture of poison arrow frogs (Dendrobatidae) in the wild. But, so far, it is still too expensive to travel to Southern America. She also loves lizards, especially geckos and chameleons.

I See You by Dark-Raptor

So do you travel to different places taking photos?
Yes, but we travel only around Europe. We are planning to get somewhere else... but still we need to spend money on other stuff than traveling. Everywhere we go, we always take camrea and if it is possible, take the macro shots.

Well thanks again to Dariusz for participating in the interview. I have a great interest in macrophotography so I've learnt quite a bit from this interview, like what type of equipment is required and that no matter where you go, there are always amazing creatures to look at. :)

If you want to see more of their amazing photography, please visit Dark-raptor on deviantart.



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