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Focus-Stacked Macro Photos of Bugs by Photographer Nicolas Reusens
Photographer Nicolas Reusens has always been interested in insects, so when he purchased his first DSLR three years ago, he immediately dove into the art of macro photography. By using the technique known as focus stacking — combining several images taken at different depths of field — he’s generated some truly eye-popping photos of creepy crawlies from all over the world.
When we say all over the world, we’re not exaggerating. Reusens is half Swedish by birth and lives in Spain, but over the past three years, he has travelled to Costa Rica three times, Malaysia twice, South Africa twice, the Peruvian Amazon, Ecuador, Mexico and more to find and photograph his subjects.
His choice to user focus stacking arose from a need to increase his depth of field without stopping down his aperture. Stopping down the aperture requires longer exposure times, and in some cases leads to diffraction and reduced sharpness.
By combining anywhere from 2 to 200 exposures (no, we didn’t add an extra zero, Reusens actually uses that many exposures for some of his more extreme macro shots) using Zerene Stacker, he creates images that he tells us would be “physically impossible with normal imaging equipment”.
This collection of zooids (dactylozooids (the hunters), gastrozooids (the eaters), gonozooids (the reproducers) and the pneumatophores (the sailors) are more commonly known as the Portuguese Man o’ War. Not much is known about these creatures except that they sting. Aaron Ansarov turned them into beautiful works of psychedelic art, yet remains unharmed. Ansarov and his wife collected them from the shores of south Florida, transported them in a cooler full of sea-water to his nearby studio, photographed them on light tables (mirrored their image in Photoshop), and returned them to the shore, unharmed. To be clear, however, these creatures are on their death bed once they hit the beach. “When they drift ashore,” says Ansarov, “it is rare for them to survive the tide and be pulled back out to sea…sometimes they may get pulled back out, but it’s up to nature’s design.” To see more of Ansarov’s work, visit his website.
Photograph by Todd Mintz
Heading to the Canadian Arctic on the shores of the Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada, I had one day in Churchill before we would catch a small plane to the remote cabins on the tundra to photograph polar bears. A friend and I borrowed a local truck and toured around the Churchill area looking at the historic sites and watching for polar bears. As we drove past the massive grain terminal I spotted this hybrid red fox hunting among the piping. He paused, very comfortable with our presence, and posed for me—as interested in us as we were in it. —Todd Mintz
(Source: National Geographic)
Photograph by Michelle Valberg
“The light snow falling with a hint of the sun peeking through the clouds made our dogsled ride in Igloolik appear as though we were riding into heaven,” photographer Michelle Valberg says. Igloolik is in Canada’s Nunavut territory, rich in Inuit culture and teeming with wildlife.
(Source: National Geographic)
This great white egret is often found at this spot on Tampa’s beautiful Hillsborough River. It was almost sunset, and we were just taking our kayaks out of the water at the Trout Creek Park boat dock. When I looked up and saw the bird directly across the river in front of this massive old bald cypress, I saw the “perfect” shot and grabbed my camera, a Nikon digital D80. The bluish cast to the water is partly due to the sun having gone almost down and pollen floating on the surface. —Carol Kay
(Source: National Geographic)
Photo and caption by Mahdi Bemani (Dushanbe, Tajikistan); Photographed March 2010, Hisar City in Tajikistan
Incredible POV Video of Peregrine Falcon Killing a Duck in Mid Air
The Peregrine Falcon, also known as the Duck Hawk (a fact you won’t soon forget after watching this video), is a spectacular bird of prey. Claiming the title of fastest member of the animal kingdom, a Peregrine Falcon can reach speeds in excess of 200mph during its characteristic high-speed hunting dives — take that cheetah.
In the video above, YouTube user drhodie‘s falcon Dora happens to have a camera on her back as she performs one of these dives and takes an unsuspecting duck in mid-air.
Dora is a Peale’s/Anatum Peregrine, making her a cross between the largest subspecies of the group and the standard American Peregrine Falcon. She is also female, which makes her much larger than the males of her species.
In addition to her incredible speed, Dora’s eyesight is also mind-boggling. Because Peregrine Falcons have two foveas (the part of the eye responsible for sharp central vision), one of which is shaped like a telephoto lens, Dora can see her prey from as far as 6 miles away.
In other words: the duck didn’t stand a chance.
Amazing Photo of a Polar Bear Swimming and the Story Behind It
Frenchman Joe Bunni is not a photographer; first and foremost he’s a dentist. Once you learn that, the fact that he captured the above photo and won the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 2011 is even more incredible. The photo shows a polar bear swimming not more than a few feet away from Bunni, and if you think the photo is amazing, wait until you hear the story behind it.
The hard-earned money Bunni makes fixing cavities goes towards financing amazing wildlife photography trips. It was on one such trip in Repulse Bay, Nunavut, Canada, after an encounter with an aggressive mother bear followed by three fruitless days on a small boat looking for a lone bear, that Bunni finally ran into this female.
They hung around at a distance until the bear got used to their presence, after which Bunni took his Nikon D2X (safe in its Aquatica housing) put on a mask and some flippers, and got in the water with a polar bear. Italics don’t do this act justice.
Photograph by Max Seigal
It was 5 a.m. and we had just landed on the shore of South Georgia to catch the sunrise. It was cloudy and overcast, which presented the perfect opportunity for me to shoot some long exposures. At first I experimented with standing out in the water and photographing the crashing waves contrasted with the penguins on shore, but the waves were moving my tripod too much to get a stable shot. I realized I would need to be on shore, where I could get a steady shot, but I still wanted to include the water in my photo. I looked over and saw this lone penguin just at the water’s edge. I quickly aimed and took this long-exposure shot, and moments after the shutter clicked the penguin looked up and walked off. Even though the sky didn’t glow orange that morning due to overcast conditions, I still walked away very pleased with shooting in wonderful conditions that allowed me to capture this image. —Max Seigal
(Source: National Geographic)
This photo just reminded of the interesting story behind this bronze briefcase. I’ll make a separate post about that.
Just like the human eye, the arthropod eye is a marvel of natural engineering. But unlike human eyes, insect eyes approach seeing very differently. Instead of a curved lens focusing an image onto a plane of rods and cones, insects have curved eyes covered by “ommatidia,” each acting as a tiny pixel.
In a paper published today in the scientific journal Nature, a team of researchers from the U.S., South Korea, Singapore and China announced that they have managed to create a camera that mimics that type of eye — and all of its advantages and pitfalls along with it.
Because the arthropod eye is built, basically, out of hundreds (or sometimes tens of thousands) of little individual pixels organized onto a dome, they have two distinct advantages and one distinct disadvantage.
The good news: they experience a nearly 180-degree field of view paired with a nearly infinite depth of field. In other words, they can see almost all the way around them and everything, both near and far, is always in focus at the same time.
The bad news: you only get as much resolution as the number of pixels you have. In the insect world, the pixel war rages on. Fire ants come in at the bottom with only about 180 ommatidia, and dragonflies near the top with something like 20,000.
The camera the researchers developed benefits from the same advantages and falls prey to the same issues. The sensor is basically a rubbery, flat, circular balloon covered on one side with ommatidia-like nubs. The lens at the top of each nub plays the role of an ommatidium cornea, while the posts the lenses sit on act as ommatidium cones.
Because the sensor is like a flat, rubbery balloon, all they have to do to round it out like an insect eye is blow it up. The camera can then capture a 160 degrees field of view with no distortion at the edges; and no matter if the subject is close by or far away, it’s in focus.
For now, the camera, with its 180 ommatidia, is more like a fire ant eye then the dragonfly eye they want to make (it’ll take shrinking all of the parts significantly to achieve that feat). But the camera is still making headlines as the first working compound eye camera, according to an article in Nature.
The current prototype can only produce black-and-white, 180 pixel images; but future iterations could be game changing in the tiny camera game, with applications ranging from spy cams to endoscopes.
Photo and caption by Christopher Doherty (North Palm Beach, FL); Photographed August 2011, Juno Beach, Florida
This body of work was created as a response to the increasing issues of urban sprawl and deforestation that are destroying wild spaces and displacing animals from their natural habitats. My images show a series of animals navigating through the ruins of industrial society in search of their missing homes. - Nick Pedersen