Live ants not exactly the easiest subject to photograph. very common on our allotment under plastic sheeting
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The full-face shot shows the features that make it either rubra or ruginodis (the rib running up the face and around the antennal base). The side view of the waist shows the stepped profile of the petiole that is ruginodis. In rubra it is much more triangular. If it had been one of the other Myrmica, these shots, though impressive, would not have been enough to make it to a species. The shape of the basal part of the antenna would be critical, and even then it would not always be possible to do it.
recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.
What wonderful photography, can you tell me which camera you used and how you went about
taking these photo's. Thanks, and well done!
Its not the camera that is most important but the lens and lighting. It was a 65mm MP-E macro lens on a canon camera which allows you to get 5x magnification, then lots more magnification by cropping down the photo. An alternative way of taking this kind of photo would be to use bellows but this tends to be a lot more bulky and difficult especially with insects that are moving like these ants. Note the depth of field - i.e. the area that is in focus - is around 1mm so you have to position the camera at a very precise distance from the insect.
With these big magnifications and moving subjects its not possible to use natural light (I could explain why if you want) so you have to use flash positioned in exactly the right place very close to the subject. I used to use a very cheap (Â£10) fully manual flash held in my hand near the subject (while still looking through the viewfinder!) and guess the exposure which was fairly hit and miss, some good results and some very dark images. Now I use an automatic flash system attached to the lens which in theory should work perfectly every time but in practice often has to be adjusted substantially before it will work properly.
I had agreed with Syrphus's ID as ruginodis, but Mike's additional ID prompted me to look again and I think Mike is correct, so have changed my agreement - either I didn't look at it closely enough the first time or I'm just easily persuaded! Anyway, thanks for the update Mike.
Entomologist and biological recorder
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