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Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography

Thrifty Thursday: School of Ants

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Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs taken with equipment costing less than $500.

[Apple iPhone 4s - $300]

Working at the microscope yesterday I suddenly remembered Thrifty Thursday. I needed a photo! So I stuck my iPhone behind the carpenter ant I was examining and took this self-portrait.

The insect arrived at my desk via the citizen-science project School of Ants. Thousands of people country-wide are mailing in ants collected from their yards and gardens. The level of popular interest has taken nearly everyone by surprise, and I have signed on to help identify some of the midwestern samples- including this Camponotus pennsylvanicus.

This image would not have happened with my professional-grade SLR gear. For one, I don't lug all that heavy equipment around with me unless I have reason. For another, the SLR simply doesn't fit under the scope. It's too bulky, and the working space is too confined. The iPhone, in pleasant contrast, slides right in.

I suppose you could accuse me of phoning it in this week. And you'd be exactly right.

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

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