Personalities- Michael Pankratz

Apr 14, 2013
The Reptile Report
by Robyn

The Reptile Report - Personalities- A Media Resource

My name is Michael Pankratz, and I’ve been into various inverts since I was about four. I grew up on a large farm in SW Minnesota and I could usually be found wandering the woods and meadows with a butterfly net over my shoulder. Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) has always been my first love, and during my Jr. and Sr. High School years I raised quite a number of local Saturniid moths.

After ten years In Santa Fe (designing optical systems and telescopes) I moved back to Minnesota. As it wasn’t the adventurous place which I had previously become used to I returned to my first passion, raising inverts, and thought it would be fun to get another adult B. smithi, (tarantula which I’d kept while in HS and College). Well, somehow a friend talked me into trying to raise slings (had to ask what a ‘sling’ was), began with a dozen A. versicolor slings and of course became hooked!!

It was also soon after that time during which I began taking pictures of my collection, beginning with a cheap point and shoot which my brother was throwing away. As my skills and interest grew I slowly began upgrading my equipment, ending up with the camera which I use today, a Nikon D7000. I also attach a Raynox dcr-250 or an msn-202 for higher magnifications than the 1:1 Nikkor 105 macro lens can attain. A number of my photos have been used in museum exhibits and biodiversity websites.

Needless to say, I was by this time completely enamored with taking photos of my tarantulas. I continue to be an amateur … the literal meaning of which is ‘someone who loves what they do’! During the past couple of years I have posted my best photos on Flickr and various tarantula forums. I’m particularly into taking macros of slings … the ‘WOW factor’ with these is incredible, always revealing things which the eye alone would never guess where there!

I find that the main secret to getting good photos is to take hundreds during a photo shoot … a few are bound to turn out well!

Very recently I’ve begun attempting deep focus stacks of tarantulas … quite a challenge as they must sit motionless, not so much as moving a chelicera, while I take about 50 shots at progressive focal planes.

I very much hope that my next step will be breeding tarantulas, but thus far my attempts have met with failure for various reasons … I’ll certainly keep trying. How exciting it was as I watched a good friend of mine (Chad) open a sac full of gorgeous little EWLs!!

Flickr photo gallery-

One of my Arachnoboard threads-

I am available to contribute in these areas:

  • television/video- no
  • radio- no
  • photography- yes
  • video production- no
  • consulting- no
  • interviews- yes
  • referrals- no
  • quotes- yes
  • writing- yes
  • hosting- no
  • organization- no
  • breeding/husbandry info- no
  • natural habitat info- no
  • research- no

I can be reached at

check it out@ the online source