13 Photos - Dec 28, 2013
Photo: Pseudomyrmex pallidus. ant on twig (species id thanks to +Alex Wild)

Backlit, with a nice strong tent lighting as well; this gives a nice rim light to defined the ant even better against the black, and highlights the few hairs this species of ant has, in addition to providing a nice overhead "strip box" look.

Please do go zoomy here - the massive compound eye (given the body size) is particularly neat when viewed close.

She does make good use of that eye - which makes getting a decent shot more problematic.  She'll move around the branch as soon as your camera moves at all.  I placed her on a suspended twig, so really she had nowhere to go, but she could still easily frustrate a photographer!  In the future I need to setup for pictures on an end of the twig rather than the middle, since that's where she spent most of her time.

I found this gal right outside my front door in our landscaping; returned to the bush after I was done with her.Photo: Fire ant (Solenopsis sp.)

I had to edit the reflection more than I'd like on this one, but I think the main image is a pretty good one - lots of the body lined up along the focus plane, and since this ant was anything but calm it's a realistic pose as she boogied across the glass.

Please view larger!  Fire ant body texturing isn't as heavy as many genera, but its still present if you look close.

2 strobes for backlight, additional tented strobe overhead.Photo: Trachymrymex turrifex on Orange

I'm not sure what exactly this ant was doing; she was running around just fine, and then assumed this pose and wouldn't move at all.  I'm guessing this is the ant equivalent to "playing possum", hoping that the big ugly photographer wouldn't eat her if she didn't move a muscle.  I've seen this species freeze before in response to a threat, but the 'head down' posture is a new one for me.

In any case, it let me line up a nice reflection shot.  This is on a pane of glass a a very low angle to avoid the double-reflections.  One flash diffused flash on top, another lighting the background.   Hope you enjoy!  (please view larger if your device supports it!)Photo: Sisters (3/3)

Can you believe they're both workers of the same species?Photo: Carpenter ant (Camponotus sayi)

Viewers of my stream may recognize this shot - I shared the first incarnation here:


This version has elements from 3 other images at slightly different focus points to put nearly the entire head into focus.  The biggest problem was that antennae moved between shots though the rest of the ant was pretty stationary (after all the ant was alive) - so it required some  manual rotations to get them lined up properly between the frames.

Please VIEW LARGE to see all the detail!  Enjoy!Photo: Ophiocordyceps fungusPhoto: Eciton hamatumPhoto: Azteca ants attacking army ant scoutPhoto: Camponutus americancus eye and antennal insertion

Big ants are fun.  They have comparatively big features, which you can take really close up shots of, like this one taken at a bit more than 3:1 magnification.  The downside of doing this is that your diffraction effects go way up, and to avoid that you have to open the aperture - which reduces your DoF.  So while the top of the eyeball is in sharp focus, the part nearest to me starts to lose it!

#ants  #BuggyFriday by +Ray Bilcliff and +Dorothy Pugh 

Even with 3:1 on a big ant, this is still pretty heavily cropped.

This is a live ant, so focus stacking is pretty much impossible.Photo: Acrobat ant on glass (Crematogaster sp.)Photo: Camponotus Subgenus Myrmentoma

I expect this gal is a Camponotus decipiens, but I'm not completely sure.   I don't have a shot of clypeus so I've got to infer from the backlit hairs I can see in profile. She was rather active, and not very predictable to shoot - so it was a frustrating photo session!  This is pretty much the only shot I got with an eye in focus.

3 strobes (2 for backlight, 1 overhead with tent) on glass.  Not particularly high magnification - this is a big ant.Photo: Ant on Black (Pogonomyrmex sp.)

Please view larger if your device supports it!

A slightly higher angle provides a different view of the psammophore (the hair basket under their heads) in the reflection than in the direct image, and I think the light works especially well here to illustrate it.  There's also a good balance of light overall, with the backlight making the hairs pop and lots of body detail.  I'm pretty happy how this one turned out!  I may get a big print of this shot to hang in my office.

This I believe is my cleanest one out of the hundreds of shots I've taken.  I switched to the hard disk as a platform instead of the glass, which provides the super-crisp reflection without any streaking, and gives me some angle flexibility.Photo: