Photo Synthesis

Archives for April, 2009

Agrarian Ants

Today, Roche announced funding for over a dozen genomes of organisms associated with the agricultural attine ants and the fungus they cultivate. In honor of the occasion, here’s a sampling of a few of the attine species and their gardens. Acromyrmex sp. nr. crassispinus, Argentina.

[This is a repost from the Myrmecos Blog, originally published February 2008] In 1934, a diminutive book by an unknown author seeded the largest conservation movement in history. The book, Roger Tory Peterson’s A Field Guide to the Birds, pioneered the modern field guide format with crisp illustrations of diagnostic characters, all in a pocket-sized…

Another way to humanize an insect photo…

…is to add an actual human. Dynastes granti – Western Hercules Beetle, Arizona It’s funny how our social primate brain works. We gain immediate emotional access to an image simply by inserting a member of our own species. (Incidentally, that’s one reason why David Attenborough’s Life in the Undergrowth is so effective. With Attenborough able…

Ants in the New York Times

Temnothorax marked for studies of individual behavior at the University of Arizona Today’s New York Times is carrying a profile of myrmecologist Anna Dornhaus. It is nice to see Anna’s work receiving such attention, great and important, blah blah blah, but the really important part is this. The editors had the excellent taste to illustrate…

Portrait of a Grasshopper

Trimerotropis pallidipennis – Pallid-Winged Grasshopper – Arizona Technical details: Lens: Canon MP-E 1-5x macro lens Body: Canon EOS 20D Flash: Canon MT-24EX twin-flash, diffused through tracing paper Settings: ISO 100, f/14, 1/250 sec

Photo Technique: the White Box

An anonymous commenter asked if I could explain the white box I sometimes use for insect studio shots. Here it is: There’s not much to it. It’s an old cardboard box- this one once held toilet paper, I think- with white printer paper taped along the inside. The strobe is placed inside the box. When…

Are these two ants sharing an intimate moment?

Those of you who haven’t got an ad blocker installed have probably seen this ant floating about in a promotional banner in the ScienceBlogs sidebar: I can’t speak for how others react to this image. Most, I imagine, filter it out as yet more clutter on the screen. But for a picture of an insect…

Nature photographers William & Matthew Burrard-Lucas explain the magic behind some recent images of mosquitoes emerging from their pupae. While they list the equipment and lighting they used for the session, the key factor seems to have been the determined patience with which they watched pupae develop over two weeks so that they’d be able…

Ectatomma edentatum, Argentina Equipment details: Canon EOS 20D, using an MP-E 65mm 1-5x lens (at 5x), lit with an MT-24EX twin flash diffused through tracing paper. Several years ago, before I became serious about photography, I shot the same species in Paraguay with a little Nikon Coolpix 995. Here’s the result: