Photographs by Frank

12 June 2010

Ants Herding Aphids

Filed under: Other Insects,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 9:11 AM

Yesterday after work Joan went out to inspect her vast flower beds. At one point she stuck her head back in the door to say “There are ants herding aphids out here.”

I have learned over the years that when your wife spotter announces a find I am required go get the camera and investigate.

For those of you who have not heard about or seen ants herding aphids, it is an example of biological mutualism. You can read more about it here.

As you know, ants are very small (these were about one quarter of an inch long) and (most commonly) black. This makes for a difficult photographic subject. Thus,  I had some experimenting to do.

To get high magnifications, I used my extension tubes… this was the first time I had a need for all three at once.  The camera was mounted on the tripod… no hand holding at this magnification.

Light was provided by an off camera flash diffused with a soft-box. This was lying on the ground off to one side or hand held off to the side more-or-less at the level of the subject.

This  photo was taken using my 70-300 mm lens with three extension tubes (36 + 20 + 12 = 68 mm):

[singlepic id=85 w=300 h= mode= float=]

For this photo, I switched to the 90 mm macro lens and ended up using just the two larger extension tubes… all three tubes gave too much magnification:

[singlepic id=86 w=300 h= mode= float=]


  1. Very nice. Thanks for the “how I did it” segment as well – not that I have that equipment at my disposal.

    Comment by Just Joe — 13 June 2010 @ 9:05 AM

  2. Your welcome… I’m working on a post that will include a photo of the “dragonfly rig” and that will talk a bit about the “problems” to be solved in shooting macro.

    And, you are correct… shooting macro does require a little bit of specialized equipment. (I’m still working on convincing Joan about the “little” part of that statement.)

    Comment by Frank — 13 June 2010 @ 10:18 AM

  3. […] my experience with using all three extension tubes for photographing ants and aphids, I decided to experiment a bit more with using all of the tubes (36 + 20 + 12 mm) on both the […]

    Pingback by Flowers At Close Range « Photographs by Frank — 26 June 2010 @ 12:39 PM

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress