Photo Synthesis

Protecting big sister


A Brazilian leafcutter ant (Atta sexdens) harvests a leaf while her little sister stands guard against an intrusive photographer.

(Incidentally, image searches for this genus return an unnerving mix of terrorists and ants.)

Photo details: Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 20D. ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, twin flash diffused through tracing paper.


  1. #1 MattK
    April 21, 2009

    I’m not sure which end of the leaf is attached but either way comedy will ensue once it is cut through.

  2. #2 Sid
    April 21, 2009

    Hi Alex, What type of camera/lens (preferably older and second hand) would you recommend for a novice nature photographer? Beautiful photo. Sid Ganesan.

  3. #3 DrA
    April 21, 2009

    >>I’m not sure which end of the leaf is attached but either >>way comedy will ensue once it is cut through.

    Workers often stand on the piece they are cutting, and as the piece is nearly cut through and begins to sag, the ant swivels around to grasp the cut piece before it falls. They knows what they doing.

  4. #4 Alex
    April 21, 2009

    Sid- That will depend on the type of photography you intend to do. Landscape, wildlife, and macro photography require very different optics (wide-angle, telephoto, and macro lenses, respectively)

    As to the camera itself, that’s relatively unimportant. All the major manufacturers make simply amazing cameras these days, and they have for years now, so it’s hard to go wrong even with older-model equipment. I’d pick a lens or two you want to use, put most of your money there, and then find a compatible camera back.

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