An Odontomachus On Guard

Odontomachus latidens

How does one take a photograph like this?

Having a cooperative subject helps. I was able to borrow a few ants from a laboratory colony by gently dipping a piece of wood into the nest box, picking up a few guards, and placing the wood on a little pedestal. The pedestal was important, as I could approach from a low ants-eye perspective rather than shooting down at the subjects.

My actions were slow enough to avoid alarming the ants. They stayed calm, moving about slowly and deliberately, so that I could focus and compose equally deliberately.

The lighting was engineered by placing two white mylar diffusion sheets half an inch above the ant- just out of view- and firing two strobes through them, one farther away so that the light shone back through the translucent parts of the subject. That’s why the legs appear to glow a little.

The final element is patience. I took about 20 minute’s worth of photos to net a few usable ones.

photo details:
Canon EOS 7d camera
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100 f/13 1/250 sec

6 thoughts on “An Odontomachus On Guard”

  1. Ha. My first thought upon glimpsing the first photograph was, “wow, that’s gorgeous…I wonder how he DID that?” Thanks for the explanation 🙂

  2. Hi Alex,

    all of this images are so great dämn awesome!
    Maybe you could send me some one, which you didn’t need anymore?

    You got my email address.

    Thanks a lot!

    Mike King

  3. Pingback: The eponymous, featured « Odontomachus's Blog

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