14 September 2012

Let's Get Small

I turned 36 yesterday, and for a variety of reasons I'm focusing on tiny details. Such was the case with the legendary biologist E.O. Wilson, a fellow Eagle Scout who studied ants during WWII because the pins needed to display flies were in short supply due to steel rationing.

On the thirty-sixth anniversary of my birth, I was lying in the grass in my backyard, holding my Nikon D40 digital camera with a zoom lens and a 1970s Minolta SLR lens mounted backwards in front of the zoom. It's a technique called "reverse lens" and is perfect for microphotography, although it works better if you have step down rings to attach everything. I was doing this manually and tilting my head to get clear shots of the ants.

Each of these Monomorium minimum ants are about 1.5 mm in length. Most of these pictures are less than half an inch in width. Through the multiple lenses I could watch them carry individual grains of sand into the colony, as well as individual grains being removed.

I was struck by the clean and shiny carapaces that reflected the blue sky. Beauty can be found in the smallest of places, but sometimes you have to stop and look for it.