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Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography
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    Alex Wild Alex Wild is an Illinois-based entomologist who studies the evolutionary history of ants. In 2003 he founded a photography business as an aesthetic complement to his scientific work, and his natural history photographs appear in numerous museums, books, and media outlets. Follow on Twitter @myrmecos.
  • Recipe For A Photograph #5: The Angry Ant

    Solenopsis invicta 1

    This 2007 photograph of a fire ant brandishing her stinger is among the most heavily circulated images from my collection. Since several people have asked how I managed to coax the animal into such a dramatic pose, I bring you the following recipe. But first, a digression into fire ant biology. Everyone knows fire ants [...]

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    Giving Birth To A Tropical Parasite [Video; Not For The Squeamish]


    “Why is it that an animal that is actively trying to kill us, such as a lion, gets more respect than one that is only trying to nibble on us a little, without causing much harm?” -Piotr Naskrecki Biologist Piotr Naskrecki, who traveled with me to Belize last year, returned home to find himself incubating [...]

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    Into the Public Domain

    In honor of January 1st being Public Domain Day, I am releasing a few of my older images from copyright: These images are now available for all uses, including commercial use, without the need for attribution or permission. Enjoy! Why am I doing this? Public Domain Gallery at Alex Wild Photography Wikimedia Commons  

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    My Personal Best Photographs of 2014

    Aedes aegypti

    2014 was a busy year, and an odd one in terms of subject matter. Usually my stream is full of ants. I am trained as an ant biologist, after all, and these charming social insects typically weigh heavily in my photographs (see 2013, 2012, 2011). I’ve been broadening my scope, though. Wandering out of my [...]

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    January 1 is Public Domain Day!


    [The following piece is a modified repost from 2013] Every year, on the first of January, copyrights on certain older creative works expire and the works pass into the public domain. In 2015, for example, a selection of pieces by mythologist Joseph Campbell and artist Edvard Munch will, in some countries, become open for anyone to [...]

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    These Spider Fangs Aren’t Going To Photograph Themselves

    Atrax robustus

    Here is a photograph of a Sydney funnel-web spider, Atrax robustus: I won’t explain the biology of this delightful animal here – you may read about it at Wikipedia in greater arachnological detail. Instead, I want to show the process by which I arrived at this composition. Most photographs involve some combination of creativity and constraint, and [...]

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    Successful Science Photographers Have Access. Here’s How To Get It.

    Yuko Ulrich

    If you spend time reading online photography fora, which you do because you’re here, you will already know the key to great photos is owning the Canikon Extended 15-1000mm F1.2 Stabilized Howitzer XL III. You probably can’t afford the Canikon XL III. But if you could, you’d know to shoot in camera raw with mirror [...]

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    Wasps Are Our Friends: Part IV


    When most people think of wasps, they imagine a stereotypically striped stinging insect. Such wasps are part of the family Vespidae, but they are, in fact, a minority of species and unrepresentative of their order. Taken by sheer number of species, the average wasp is quite a different animal: timid, stingless, and very, very small. [...]

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    How To Manipulate a Firefly Photograph The Old-Fashioned Way, Through Focus


    In the previous post, I listed a couple ways in which photographers digitally alter firefly photographs. How nefarious of them! I admit, however,  the post was a wee bit facetious. Photoshop can be used to alter the appearance of an image, of course, but cameras themselves have enough variables that a photographer can exercise tremendous [...]

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    How To Pick A Photoshopped Firefly

    Photinus pyralis

    Now that firefly season is sparking up our eastern and midwestern summer evenings, I am starting to see not just the insects themselves but the attendant media buzz. That nature gets some public attention is a good thing, of course. But nature untouched isn’t apparently enough for everyone. A surprising number of common stock firefly [...]

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