Acrobat ants and a change of style

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Crematogaster acrobat ants feed from a Heliconia flower
Jatun Sacha, Napo, Ecuador

This is a photograph I probably wouldn’t have taken if my powerful MP-E lens hadn’t failed during my recent Ecuador trip. I normally shoot ants close-in (like so), but with high magnification off the table I had to take another approach.

When photographic subjects occupy only a small part of the frame, the composition, context, and backdrop assume elevated importance. Instead of ticking down my list of the tiny ants I wanted to shoot and then arranging for the most pleasing backdrop given their field situation, I had to work backwards. I targeted insects on aesthetically interesting backdrops. Bright colors, curvy surfaces, converging lines. Images suited for fine art as much as for natural history.

This was the silver lining to equipment failure. Forced out of my comfort zone I experimented with lenses, lighting, and composition. While my overall output was reduced from what I’d hoped for, I ended up with a stylistically broader portfolio. I’d like to think I became a better photographer.


photo details:
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens
Canon EOS 7D
(top)ISO 200, f/16, 1/250 sec
(bottom)ISO 100, f/18, 1/250 sec

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