Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Ant undaunted

with 40 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Oh profligate me: I take a lot more pictures than I can possibly show you here. Now that we’re in a relatively bleak part of the year, I’ll supplement current pictures—which aren’t coming quite as fast and furious, thanks to the season—with some from the past year that I never managed to squeeze in, of which there are many.

Back on August 7th I showed a photograph of two ants that met their demise when they became entombed in a drop of sunflower resin. Most ants, especially the bigger ones, don’t suffer that fate. Here’s a large reddish one I photographed on the tip of a sunflower leaf alongside Bull Creek on August 3 (on the same outing that produced the picture of the bald cypress “rainbow”). Ants often move quickly on plants, as this one was doing; if that’s not the way the photograph makes it look, it’s because I used a shutter speed of 1/500 sec. to stop most of the motion. Even so, you can see a bit of movement in the ends of the ant’s antennae and its forelegs.

For those interested in photography as a craft, points 1, 2, 5, 7, and 18 in About My Techniques are relevant to today’s picture.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 18, 2012 at 5:09 AM

40 Responses

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  1. Great picture and, as always, I appreciate the educational aspect.


    January 18, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    • Even if I want to say “Teacher, teacher, go away, come again another day,” it usually does no good: the teacher finds a way to have his say.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 6:51 AM

  2. Very nice shot, Steve. You stopped the motion at a very interesting point….looks like it’s at full attention.

    Steve Gingold

    January 18, 2012 at 5:51 AM

  3. Amazing how it appears to be standing.

    Bonnie Michelle

    January 18, 2012 at 8:09 AM

  4. Where are his 3 million friends? (too much Discovery Channel!)

    Wonderful capture.


    January 18, 2012 at 8:32 AM

    • I don’t know a lot about ants, but I think this isn’t one of the swarming types. That’s why I lived to tell the tale.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 9:07 AM

  5. An amazing photo. I’m also intrigued by the background.


    January 18, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    • Thanks, Louis. When the circumstances allow, I sometimes take pictures from a position that lines my subject up against something in the background that’s colorful but far enough away to stay largely (or in this case completely) out of focus. The yellow in this image came from a nearby sunflower.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 9:52 AM

  6. Great macro shot Steve! I am in the market for one (my old Minolta lenses won’t mount to a Nikon…no adaptors are made for this combo, plus focal planes are different) but can’t decide on brand or focal length. I am thinking in the 70 – 85 mm range.


    January 18, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    • Thanks, David. I started out with a 50mm Canon macro lens (thanks to my friend Ariana) and later moved up to first one and now another 100mm Canon, which lets me stay farther back from my subject but still get a 1:1 image. By coincidence, a couple of hours ago I was reading the latest issue of Popular Photography, which features a new Sigma 150mm macro f/2.8 with image stabilization. The magazine didn’t test the lens, but you may want to look it up and see what sorts of reviews it’s gotten (if there are any yet). And of course Nikon has its own macro lenses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      • This is tough…photo equipment is like a good restaurant menu with too many pages of dishes to choose from. Nikon, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina arrrrghghhh.


        January 18, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      • That’s not a problem: just buy one of each.
        On the serious side, you may want to check the detailed equipment reviews at


        I’ve found this site to be quite helpful over the years.

        Steve Schwartzman

        January 18, 2012 at 10:52 AM

  7. Wow, great capture! Looks like it’s trying to decide ‘Left to safety, right to doom.’ Patience and planning make for some wonderful shots! Cheers. 🙂


    January 18, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    • Patience, planning, and let’s not leave out a dose of good fortune—in this case, because the ant stayed on the sunflower plant, even if it moved around.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 1:07 PM

  8. Just WOW – awesome photo!!!


    January 18, 2012 at 11:54 AM

  9. Insects are simply amazing and an endless source of entertainment–as long as they’re politely refraining from biting, stinging or otherwise impinging on my personal space!! Great shot of some beautiful body armor!


    January 18, 2012 at 12:23 PM

  10. love seeing that ant on the tip of a leaf.


    January 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

  11. Be still my ant-loving heart! This is stunning!


    January 18, 2012 at 1:55 PM

  12. 🙂 I really like this one!! So does my 5 year old 🙂


    January 18, 2012 at 7:23 PM

  13. Yet another brilliant photograph. And where will that ant go, do you think, when it reaches the very top?

    Susan Scheid

    January 18, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    • Thanks, Susan. If I recall correctly, when one of these ants reached the tip of a leaf, it turned around and went back to the stalk of the plant. What the ants were looking for or doing on the sunflower plant, I don’t know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 18, 2012 at 9:36 PM

  14. What a great photo!


    January 19, 2012 at 4:04 AM

  15. I’m very impressed with all the details here.
    The background looks awesome and makes the ant stand out.
    Nicely done Steve.

    Pablo Buitrago

    January 20, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    • Thanks, Pablo. This time all the elements, including the yellow glow in the background, lined up for a success.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2012 at 10:13 AM

  16. What fantastic color! What a cool portrait! Clapping!


    January 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    • I wondered what that sound was that I heard a while ago. Now I’m happy to find out it was you.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 20, 2012 at 12:54 PM

  17. This feels like a cut above other ant shots! And nicely weaved writing : )


    January 23, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    • Thanks. You could say the text has a pleasing texture. This may have been the closest I’ve ever come to an ant with my macro lens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 23, 2012 at 5:17 PM

  18. We can see details ! congralutations !


    January 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM

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