Things to come…

Light posting over the last couple days, I’m afraid. Our kitten Mingus came down with a little kitty fever this morning of 106º (That’s 41ºC for the Fahrenheit- impaired) and is spending the night in the pet hospital, enough of a distraction to derail my blogging schedule.

Don’t despair, though, there is freshy bloggy material on the way. I’ve been writing drafts on a number of photography topics in the background. Things to come include:

  • Image post-processing (what happens after a photo is taken)
  • The importance of backdrop
  • Photographing uncooperative insects
  • Cameras and lenses for macro

If there is any topic in particular you would like me to post about, email me or let me know in the comments below.

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Update (12/12/07): Mingus is back from the little kitteh hospital- he’s doing much better!

Photo Technique: On-Camera Flash Diffusion

Flash is a necessary evil in insect photography. This necessity is due to two unfortunate traits shared by most insects: small size and stubborn unwillingness to sit still for the camera. These traits confound each other in a way that renders insect photography uniquely challenging. Small subjects need to be close to the lens, placing them squarely in the zone where depth of field becomes razor-thin. Depth of field can be increased by using a small aperture, but that restricts the amount of light reaching the sensor. With so little light entering the camera, a proper exposure requires the shutter to be kept open for a long time. As most insects are busy creatures with better things to do than wait about for the shutter to close, getting a clean shot under natural lighting requires a fair bit of luck.

The easiest solution is to augment the ambient light with flash, allowing for faster shutter speeds. This is what most insect photographers do, although flash comes at considerable aesthetic cost. (more…)

Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Zut alors! This blog seems to have developed a following of Frenchmen. The shame of it is, I studied French for 5 years in High School and don’t remember a word of it.

The French ant-enthusiast forum Acideformik looks like a fine place to hang out on the intra-webs. Most online myrmecology forums are populated by 12 year-olds relating their experiences fighting red and black ants, or trying to trade in their allowance to import a colony of exotic bulldog ants (to kick the butts of both red and black ants, I gather). However, the French are over there having book discussions and contemplating the finer points of petiolar morphology. I’m jealous.

New Species: Idioneurula donegani

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Idioneurula donegani Huertas & Arias 2007

 

 

Huertas, B. and J. J. Arias. 2007. A new butterfly species from the Colombian Andes and a review of the taxonomy of the genera Idioneurula Strand, 1932 and Tamania Pyrcz, 1995 (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). Zootaxa 1652: 27-40.

The online journal Zootaxa has hosted the publication of 6723 new animal species since its inception in 2001, averaging over 2.8 new species per day. And that’s just a single journal- there are scores of taxonomy journals out there. Taxonomy is an old science, but it remains on the frontiers of biological discovery.

New Species: Mystrium maren

 

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Mystrium maren Bihn & Verhaagh 2007

Discoveries of new species on our little-known planet continue apace. The two known specimens of the impressively toothy Mystrium maren were collected in 2001 in Indonesia, and Jochen Bihn and Manfred Verhaagh just published a paper in Zootaxa describing this ant and another new species, M.leonie.

Source: J. H. Bihn & M. Verhaagh, 2007. A review of the genus Mystrium (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in the Indo-Australian region. Zootaxa 1642: 1-12.

 

*update* Lead author Jochen Bihn writes about the paper on Trophallaxis Blog.