Posts Tagged ‘eyes’

I’ve had several people ask me recently where to focus when taking insect photos.  Here’s my advice.

Aim for the eyes.


A phorid fly sits atop a fungus, its compound eye slightly ahead of the focal plane.

The same fly with its eye in the focal plane.

The second photo should be more appealing than the first.  Indeed, the first looks out of focus.  Strictly speaking, though, this isn’t true.

The top photo shows a much greater percentage of the body in focus than does the bottom photo.  Look at how crisp the outline of the fly appears in comparison to the blur of the body in the second photo.  In fact, a computer might even select the top photo as the better of the two based overall sharpness.

But we humans are not computers. We are social primates, and we naturally gravitate towards the eyes.

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In the comments, Rob Clack asks:

I’ve just read about Martialis on Panda’s Thumb and have a question. If I interpret it correctly, your cladogram shows Martialis to be the sister group of all living ants. Since it was blind and many living genera are not, that presumably implies that vision evolved independently within modern ants. I would therefore expect there to be some significant differences between modern ant eyes and those of other hymenoptera.

I assume I’m missing something.

Rob is referring to this post, going straight to the problem that Martialis seemingly poses for our understanding of ant evolution.  Was the ancestor of all ants blind?


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