Here’s looking at you, wood ant

Check this out:


Morten Aagaard combined 308 individual exposures, taken through a microscope objective mounted on the front of a dSLR, to create this extra-sharp image of the eye of a Formica worker ant. The level of detail is astounding- each hair, each facet of the compound eye- as clear as in an SEM image but in real color.

Entomologists typically photograph specimens by mounting HD video cameras on their regular microscopes via some sort of adapter. Antweb is a good example. But this newer approach is very nearly the opposite. Here, Aagaard mates a small part of a microscope to a high-quality still camera. Not only is this method less expensive in terms of equipment, the quality of the still camera’s sensor allows for images that are vastly better in resolution and dynamic range.

Aagaard is one of several photographers, mostly European, who are making use of these microscope/SLR hybrid systems. These sorts of images are more time consuming to produce than those taken with the standard video cam/microscope systems, so I don’t expect them to take over entomological imaging any time soon. But those concerned more with aesthetics than throughput should take note.


3 thoughts on “Here’s looking at you, wood ant”

  1. Fascinating that the outside 2 rows are pigmented! I’ve certainly never noticed that on any I’ve shot, but I’ve never gotten anywhere near this level of magnification.

    I’d run across his “intro to focus stacking” previously and marveled at it – I can see why the effort was put in now!

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