Friday, May 18, 2007

Frustration and reward

Greetings, originally uploaded by imarsman.

How can I take credit for interesting shots of tiny creatures? All I have to do is walk out my front door, sit down on an overturned bucket, and take a few dozen pictures. A few always turn out well. Ants have caught my attention in a big way for the past few days. I've discovered that there are at least five species in our front yard and driveway alone, something I never would have guessed had I not begun to photograph them. False Honey Ants and Acrobat Ants are the two species that graze on the sweet setae (hairs) that grow from the buds, leaves, and stems of the Bachelor's Button plants in our front garden. The individuals in this photo are False Honey Ants, engaging in a brief moment of contact to ensure they are indeed from the same colony. I have a Nikon D50 camera with a Micro Nikkor 60mm lens. This gives me 1:1 capability. Yesterday, I added in a clip-on Raynox M250 closeup lens, which finally gave me eye detail. The combination of equipment and settings is reasonably simple and leads to good results if one keeps at it. The other factor is an interest in finding good subjects and taking the time to get to know them and take lots and lots of photos of them. This shot was taken with onboard flash diffused through the plastic of a vinegar bottle after 5:00 PM. To compensate for the reduced light I bumped the ISO to 400. I've found that increasing ISO helps with exposure but does lead to slightly increased graininess particularly noticeable on out-of-focus areas.