A few snapshots from our recent expedition…
Yellow is all the rage this season among Ecuador’s leafcutters:
Note the must-have mini-ant accessory.
Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 200, 1/200 sec, f/14, diffuse remote flash
taken at the Jatun Sacha forest in Napo, Ecuador
What are the cool kids doing these days?
Freelensing, apparently. This is a photographic technique compatible with most interchangeable-lens cameras. Simply detach the lens and hold it free against the camera mount, tilted slightly. The world viewed crossways through an off-kilter lens is surreal. It’s a poor-man’s tilt-shift.
I decided to give it a try:
Plenty more at Flickr’s freelensing pool.
As a business experiment I’ve submitted an assortment of photos to the high-end science/medical stock agency Visuals Unlimited. Photo users now have the option to license my images instantly through a third party instead of waiting for me to answer my email.
I had resisted joining an agency for years, as in the age of Google there is really no need for a middleman to sit between photographers and their clients. But I’m finding that an office of professionals ready to handle paperwork is quite helpful when I’m in the field. I still license directly, of course, but that’s no longer the only way to do it.
Also, they named me a Featured Wildlife Photographer, whereby I find myself flattered to be listed alongside such greats as Thomas Marent and Arthur Morris.
Why are Elongate Twig Ants (Pseudomyrmex species) so slender?
All the better to fit into the narrow crevices of their twiggy lodgings:
Pseudomyrmex twig ants don’t carve their own nest chambers the way most other ants do. Rather, they inhabit old burrows in twigs and stems dug by the larvae of other insects, especially beetles. Their flexible, elongate bodies allow them to maneuver in tight cavities:
Elongate twig ants comprise about 200 species found in the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. Their above-ground nesting preferences make them vulnerable to winter freezing, which is presumably why they don’t extend far into the temperate zones. That’s a real shame for we northern myrmecophiles. With the exception of a handful of hyper-aggressive ant-plant species, Pseudomyrmex are delightfully gentle, quirkly little insects.
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 160, f/13, 1/200 sec
Lit with indirect foreground & background strobes
Oklahoma-based nature photographer Thomas Shahan has some of the finest arthropod portraits on the web. Recently, he made a simply charming video about how it’s done:
You’d think that awesome beard might be part of the equation. Alas, no. Shahan’s method turns out to be good old perseverance.
(h/t bug whisperer)
Monday morning seems an appropriate time to post a pest insect:
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D camera
ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec
diffuse twin flash