I photographed these major workers of Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) as they were running up and down this vine. Watching these ants every day, I got so fond of their behaviour. Each one of the workers seems to have different swag and an individual attitude in them. So I wanted to capture their portrait in their natural environment as they ran across the plants and bushes foraging for food.
I used Canon EOS 5DS R with Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Manual Focus Macro Lens. For this makeshift studio in my garden, I used GODOX – Witstro AD360 Bare Bulb Flash with an 80x80cm Godox softbox. Since the flash and the softbox is a monster and cannot be attached to camera’s hot shoe, I used a remote trigger on my hot shoe to trigger the flash. The softbox and the flash were mounted on a light stand and strategically placed over the vine where the workers were moving from one bush towards their nest. It was a highway used by ants to reach their nest; there was a lot of traffic by these ants. Here is the lighting Diagram of the setup 🙂
All these are full frame captures at 2:1 magnification with hardly any crop. The Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Manual Focus Macro Lens is a manual lens, so I had to prefocus and wait for the ant to be exactly inside the frame and capture with proper composition. I did this by noting the lag of the camera to the speed of the travel of the ant.
The trick to a perfect capture is to note their travelling speed. Since most of them move at a constant speed, it is easy to sync their speed to the clicking of the trigger as soon as they reach the optimal point on the vine. After few clicks, you know when to press the shutter. This process inevitably involved quite a bit of trial and error. That was much better than 1000 of useless burst shots and hoping some will capture the ant.
Using GODOX – Witstro AD360 Bare Bulb Flash as my flash had its advantage. Along with giving a large softbox, the flash is also incredibly powerful. It throws out four times the amount of light as compared to ordinary flash and along with Lithium battery (11.1V/4500mAH) they have a super fast recharge time. At 1/4th power setting which corresponds to a standard Speedlite, we use daily, recharge time less than 0.5secs. Thus I can continuously shoot many frames to capture the ideal portrait of an ant 🙂
Weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae of the order Hymenoptera. Weaver ants live on trees and are known for their unique nest building behaviour. The workers construct nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk. Colonies can be enormous, consisting of more than a hundred nests spanning numerous trees and contain more than half a million workers.
I have written several blogs on Weaver ants. Check the links below.