AntWeb Aims To Create Terrifying Macro Photos of Every Ant Species

An NSF-funded organization is attempting a massive project to document all 12,000 known species of ant with incredibly detailed photography.

Polyrhachis hector

Polyrhachis hector

Will Ericson

If you've ever tried your hand at macro photography on insects, you know getting the perfect depth of field is incredibly tough. A group of researchers have put together a program to not only photograph all of the thousands of varieties of ants that live on our planets surface, but also use a cunning piece of software in order to capture them in intense detail.

They use a piece of softare called Auto-Montage Pro from Syncroscopy. Using a special microscope and a C-Mount adapter, they use Z6 and Z16 lenses, and take 40 to 60 specific images of different parts of the ant with different focal planes, at which point the software stitches the shots together. After that and a little manual tweaking, you're left with incredibly detailed shots of the 5,000 species already on the AntWeb archive, and with more in the works. You can see the specifics of how the photography is done on their documentation page.

Myrmelachista chilensis by Shannon Hartman

Just be careful browsing that image archive. Some of these ants are terrifying.

[via BBC]