A feast of honeydew

Aphaenogaster tennesseensis ants and Entylia treehoppers, Lake Glendale, Illinois

Aphaenogaster tennesseensis ants and Entylia treehoppers

Cameras do not see the world the same way as do human eyes.  Sometimes extra technological trickery is needed to make a scene appear as real in a photograph as it does in life.  The above image is one of those cases.

I found these ants beautifully silhouetted on a sun-soaked leaf next to a lake in southern Illinois.  But, the shade under the leaf was strong enough to require long shutter speeds for proper exposure.  That made the moving ants blurry.  The solution was to hold a flash behind the leaf to augment the natural backlighting, bringing the intensity of light up to where the camera could capture what my own eyes saw unassisted.

photo details: Canon mp-e 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 50D

ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, one flash handheld behind leaf with faint fill flash in front

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Wow... That's a fantastic shot. I really appreciate that I not only learn about insects from you, but I'm learning a lot about macro photography as well (which I haven't jumped into yet, but will...). Thank you!

Nice trick. I'm still having trouble getting decent images of ants in good light, but I'll put this idea away for later, when I get better, which I seem to be with larger insects. (My katydids and tree crickets by headlamp are nice.)

Also, this is the first I've seen of Aphaenogaster with Entylia. A wide variety of formicines, Tapinoma, Myrmica, Crematogaster, yes, but never before this ant genus. Go figure!

By James C. Trager (not verified) on 17 Sep 2009 #permalink

Once again, I learned a taxonomical lesson from your blog that can be used to label one of my pictures. When I captured a shot of ants populating the same plant as a cluster of brown tree hoppers I thought I really had something. I was happy to see your post and understand a little more about what I was seeing.


Thanks again for your detailed work. Amateurs like me can really use the information.