photography

Dung Beetles on the Cover!

I am extremely pleased to have had the opportunity to custom-shoot a cover for this week’s Science magazine:

The research comes from Armin Moczek’s lab at the University of Indiana, known for pioneering studies on the evolution of novel structures. In this case, they figured out that horns are built by co-opting gene networks normally involved in wing development.

To produce this cover, we created dozens of alternate compositions, species, and concepts, including live beetles and focus-stacks of preserved specimens. Which I’d love to show you, but they’re contractually under wraps until the new year. Bear with me…

On the Cover of Current Biology

I am extremely pleased that Current Biology has featured my focus-stacked yellow fever mosquito on this week’s cover!

This image challenged me. The small size of the animal required a motionless (=dead) subject for focus-stacking dozens of input photographs. But mosquito bodies are so delicate, so fragile, that they dry out and collapse in a matter of minutes. I burned through a few samples getting the lighting and levels right before finally nailing this one.

The cover accompanies new research from Joshua Raji et al in Matt DeGennaro’s lab showing how mosquitoes find us using our stinky acidic volatiles.

BugShot returns to California – May 9-12, 2019

I am very pleased to announce my return to the fabulous BugShot photography workshops!

This May we’ll be in the stunning Anza Borrego desert in southern California, a landscape that typically resembles Mars but in rainy years bursts into a flurry of life and color. And this has been an exceptionally rainy year! We expect a full buggy explosion.

Click to register.

BugShot is now eight years old. What started as a one-off weekend course in St. Louis has grown to an international community of nature and photography lovers. If you are already part of our community, we’d love to see you again! If you are new, we’d love you to join!

Myrmecos in the Twin Cities

Click to view large!

Here’s something unusual: an actual gallery of printed, high-quality Alex Wild prints!

Where is this rare beast? In Minnesota:

Smail Gallery – Olin-Rice Hall, Macalester College
Saint Paul, Minnesota
September 2018 to August 2019

As you may know, I am a digital creature. I do not often translate my files into physical prints. But my streak of lasting a decade as a pro photographer without staging a large showing has broken. Macalester College in Saint Paul has worked with me over the past few months to bring you “Ants: Alien Civilizations Among Us“. It features 70 of my pieces on metal or canvas, including a giant panoramic focus-stack I created specifically for the showing.

800 individual photographs were composited in a stacked micro-panorama of Messor cephalotes, an African harvester ant.  I created this nearly 5-foot wide piece, printed on a metal plate, exclusively for the Smail gallery. 

At the gallery’s heart is the Diversity Wall. Ants from all over the world, photographed alive and scaled proportional to actual size, are printed on high-quality aluminum plates and interspersed with softer images on canvas of ant scientists working. The effect surpasses even what I had planned. It looks stunning!

A few ant action shots.

The gallery is located in the atrium of Macalester’s science building, Olin-Rice Hall, and will remain until August 2019. If you are in Minnesota this year, I encourage you to have a look.

Dolichoderus, at last

One of the more common ants in eastern North America is, ostensibly, Dolichoderus. I’ve read that, while restricted to particular habitat types, within those bogs and pine forests they are supposed to be abundant. In theory.

Yet in my entire decades-long career as an ant guy, I have never once seen them alive in North America. Anywhere. It got to the point where I was embarassed to admit such a glaring failure.

Anyway. I broke down and finally begged Ant Guru James Trager to send me a few live workers, and James kindly took pity on me. Herewith, at last, photographs of our North American Dolichoderus:

Dolichoderus mariae – Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin, USA.
A grooming Dolichoderus plagiatus worker shows the protruding propodeum that is diagnostic for the North American species of this genus. Baileys Harbor Beach, Wisconsin, USA.

 

Dolichoderus plagiatus – Baileys Harbor Beach, Wisconsin, USA.

2016 BugShot Insect Photography Workshop: May 12-15 in Austin, Texas!

I am extremely pleased to announce the 2016 BugShot Insect Photo Workshop! The event will be held for the first time in Austin, Texas, and will be instructed by Piotr Naskrecki, John Abbott, and myself. Our 3 1/2 day event will cover basic techniques in macrophotography in the field and in the studio, methods for working with live insects, and advanced techniques in focus-stacking and high-speed flash.

"Solenopsis invicta - fire ant worker"
A focus-stacked image of a red imported fire ant, one of many subjects and techniques we will cover in Austin.

 

As usual, our location is a site of considerable natural beauty, with rustic lodging and classrooms on site, with nearby hotels for those who prefer more upscale accomodation. We will be at McKinney Roughs Nature Park, a 1,900 acre tract of woodlands, meadows, and canyons. These workshops are a real highlight of my year, not just for the nature and the photo nerdery, but for the community of wonderful people that has coalesced around the BugShot events. If you haven’t been yet, you should try to this year. We’d love to have you!

BugShot 2016 Registration

Last year’s California workshop sold out within a week, so if you’re thinking of attending, you may need to sign up quickly.

***Update (December 19, 2015): BugShot 2016 is sold out. Stay tuned for our next workshop!

Some links:

Halloween Print Sale!

Arachtober Surprise

In recognition of the season, I am pleased to announce a Halloween print sale! What does this mean? I have priced 30 images of arachnids, centipedes, and zombie fungi at 70% off, nearly at cost, until November 1. If you’d like to pick up an Arachtober surprise, have a look at the link below:

2015 Halloween Print Sale!

 

 

National Pollinator Week Print Sale

pollination_sale
All prints from Alex Wild Photography’s pollination gallery are up to 70% off during Pollinator Week.

June 15-21 is Pollinator Week.

We should not have to designate a week for this. Coffee, chocolate, raspberries, almonds, melons, tequila, blueberries, and countless other delectables require floral visits by certain species of animals. Usually, insects. If you like any of these things, you should already appreciate the importance of healthy, diverse ecosystems.

But apparently not many people recognize where food comes from, or even that flowers only exist because of insects. So here we are: Pollinator Week.

The best way to celebrate Pollinator Week- while sipping coffee & enjoying raspberry-melon tart- is to draw up plans to rip out your boring lawn and replace it with pollinator-friendly native flowers. You may also write your congressperson (if you have moved on to tequila at this point, I wouldn’t blame you) to demand protection of the vanishing natural habitats where pollinators live.

garden
The prairie garden I begrudgingly left behind when moving from Illinois to Texas. We did take the cat, though.

 

Of lesser impact, I have priced my entire pollination gallery at near-cost sale rates for the week. If you’d like to pick up a 5×7″ print for as little as $3.99, have a look:

Alex Wild Photography 2015 Pollinator Week Print Sale

Anyway. Happy Pollinator Week. Get your hands dirty.