Compound Eye

Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography

On the difference between natural history art photography, and natural history photojournalism


Meet Tetradonia, a pugnacious little rove beetle that eats army ants:

Tetradonia beetle attacking an army ant. Belize.

Any animal specialized to feed on army ants is seriously badass, especially those that are smaller than the ants themselves. I've wanted to photograph Tetradonia for years, and this January during the BugShot workshop we happened across this one sniping at the edges of an Eciton hamatum raid.

I managed a single shot. This one. It's slightly overexposed with too much motion blur. I also framed it poorly. I cropped away 50% of the pixels to make a passable composition. Not my best work.

But, the blurry capture is also my only photograph of this animal. Do I upload it to my professional galleries anyway? It won't look great printed, and I'd feel embarrassed to sell it onwards for, say, a display at a natural history museum.

The question isn't trivial, as it burrows right to the heart of why I photograph insects. Am I making pretty images? Or am I documenting real natural history?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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