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Compound Eye

Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography
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    Alex Wild Alex Wild is Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, where he 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.
  • Photo Tip: Help The World See Your Hairy Fly By Using A Black Background


    Compare and contrast. Zooming in for greater detail: The same fly, the same pose, the same camera settings. All I changed was the background, and the difference in the animal’s appearance between the two photographs is immense.  

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    Announcing Insects Unlocked


    A while back I wrote a feature for Ars Technica on the dysfunctional online copyright landscape. The piece was personal. My photographs average around $50 each to make, mostly in time, equipment, and travel costs. These costs have traditionally been covered by commercial users who buy permissions, as copyright law requires. Yet fewer than 10% [...]

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    Meet Gil Wizen’s Neighbors


    Unless you live under a rock, you have likely seen the clean white natural history work of the Meet Your Neighbours project. And even if you do live under a rock, chances are one of the project’s members has found you, removed you to a plastic stage, and snapped a photo. Meet Your Neighbours is [...]

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    Another Quick Tip For Crediting Photos and Visual Art on Twitter


    Symbiartic recently mentioned tagging science artists on Twitter as an easy way to give credit. Tagging the artist is a great idea, of course, but not everyone is on Twitter. Is there a more general method for social media attribition? Why yes, there is! Twitter’s tidy 140 characters do not leave much space for even [...]

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    Then and Now: A Decade Later, A Decade Better


    Every once and a while I stumble across a dusty forgotten folder on my hard drive, full of photos so old I don’t even remember taking them. Like this 2002 shot of an Azteca adrepens ant from Paraguay: I was terrible at photography. I mean, I still make impressive numbers of truly bad photographs, but [...]

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    Build a World-Class Insect Imaging System for under $6,000


    Compound Eye has been quiet of late. My silence is for a good cause, though! The past few months have been hectic as I transitioned from freelance photography in Illinois to a new job: Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas in Austin. The move has meant a blogging hiatus. My new academic digs [...]

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    The Ethics of our Brave New Drone Photography World


    It’s a marvelous time to be a photographer. The blossoming tech industry has made us all kids in a candy shop, suddenly realizing the whole street is candy shops, on a street with peppermint cobblestones and licorice fountains. And if that weren’t enough, flying robots are now dropping candy from the sky. With the advent [...]

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    Window To A Wetter Past In Tucson


    When I lived in Tucson a few years back, I often wondered why a city even existed there. Modern Tucson is completely dry, save a few artificial ponds propped up for the golfing set. The few desert washes that pass through town are bare sand most of the time, filling only briefly during the heaviest [...]

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    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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