I'm trying something new with the mantis busts in terms of prepping the specimens. To try to address the issues of reflectivityand transparency I painted the actual mantises and fly gray. To deal with this issue in the past I had been using a mix of talc and finely ground charcoal. Various forums had suggested just the talc but by mixing with the charcoal a more neutral grey was made making it easy to set the exposure. It also helped to reduce mottling from the powder. However it just didn't work to well. So paint here we go.
Here's the basic light set up. The goal is get an evenly lit view of the subject from one side. Then the motor and arduino slowly rotate the mantis while causing the camera to actuate. This is done by taking advantage of the camera's IR remote sensor, you can see the IR LED taped to the lens. The lights in the back completely blow out the background. A piece of white acrylic was used to diffuse it. I did find that this particular set up created unwanted reflections. Movingtwo of the lights directly to the side reduced reflection and evened out the light better. Compare the two images bellow.
This tutorial has been a huge help for getting better this process. I also had no idea that you could take detail shots. When I have some serious time to kill I'm going try making detail shots to see how much of a difference it makes.