How to Keep “No-See-ums” Out of your Pictures

WHAT IS A NO-SEE-UM?   Family Ceratopogonidae, No-See-ums are tiny biting flies that often live near water.  You often see many of them swarming together in a cloud.  Keep your mouth shut or you might breathe some in or swallow them!  (It won’t hurt you, but it will probably make you cough.)   Biting midges are called no-see-ums because they’re so tiny that it is hard to see ‘um.  No-see-ums are less than ¼ of an inch long.  

WHERE DO NO-SEE-UMS LIVE?  They often stay in shrubs or the thick layer of dead leaves that naturally covers the ground.  Scrubbing your feet around in the leaves is a good way to get them stirred up.  Don’t do it!   Most no-see-ums never fly more than 350 feet from their breeding area, so if they’re bothering you, you might be able to get away from them by moving a few yards

WHY DO NO-SEE-UMS BITE?   Only the females bite and suck blood.  They need the protein in this blood to make their eggs.  No-see-ums will take blood from mammals, birds, and reptiles.  Male no-see-ums are nectar feeders and do not bite.  While the bite is not painful, it becomes very itchy.   Try not to scratch the bites; it makes them itch longer and can make the bites get infected. 

HOW CAN YOU AVOID NO-SEE-UM BITES?  The best way to avoid getting bitten by no-see-ums is to wear insect repellent when you are outside in the spring, summer, and fall.  Also, move quickly away from the areas where they’re swarming.  If you get far enough away, they won’t follow you.

HOW DO YOU AVOID GETTING THEM IN YOUR ENGAGEMENT PORTRAITS?  Here in the Lowcountry, that’s pretty much impossible this time of year if you’re shooting in the evening, at a vineyard, near wetlands, surrounded by bushes and trees, and you have to hold still long enough to get the shot…which is just long enough for them to seek you out and attack! 

HOW DO YOU GET RID OF THEM?  Aside from lots of bug repellent…in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, open the Develop Module and press “Q” to bring up the “No-See-um Remover” tool…also known as the Spot Removal tool.  🙂

I had this AWESOME Engagement Portrait Session with Melissa & Kevin the other day.  By the end of the shoot we were getting attacked pretty hard…even more than usual for this time of year.  And since I often back-light my subjects for a little extra kick, the backlighting makes the No-See-ums stand out even more.  So the Spot Removal tool has become my friend.  Here is an example of how many of those crazy critters I had to take out of a few shots.  Melissa & Kevin were so much fun to work with!  They were such troopers and so adventurous…climbing in trees, sitting on the grass, wading into water…they were willing to try anything to get a great shot!  As a result, we were rewarded with some AWESOME images.  This was the last shot of the day and one of my favorites.  More to come soon…

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