Photographer Wins Nikon Competition

Carpenter Ant | Photo Eugenijus Kavaliauskas

Lithuanian photographer Eugenijus Kavaliauskas stunned the world with a close-up shot of a carpenter ant, writes 

The picture was honoured as an Image of Distinction in the 2022 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition, which received 1,300 entries from 32 countries. The photo was taken using the reflected light technique and a stereo 10x microscope to magnify the ant. The photo went viral on social media worldwide for capturing a seemingly horror-movie-like appearance of the insect.

According to the Washington Post, the picture is a product of skilled positioning and cropping, as what seems to be the ant’s glowing red eyes are, in fact, the bases of its antennae, while what appears to be yellow teeth are its tiny trigger hairs used to sense the surrounding environment.

Kavaliauskas said it took him around 460 takes to capture the ant’s face perfectly. He also revealed that to keep an insect in front of a camera for a long time, one first needs a fridge.

“All insects hibernate at low temperatures. You have a very small window of time to photograph it before it starts waking up,” he told LRT TV.

“In the studio, I immediately choose the size of the [stand-in] object, for example, a pin for a mosquito. Using it, I model the light, distance, etc., and only then do I bring the mosquito in,” the photographer added.

He explained that freezing insects completely would not help in the process, as the main component of insects is liquid, so it would be clearly visible if they were dead.

According to Kavaliauskas, the most difficult part of photographing insects is finding and capturing the subjects: “Insects are not stupid – they hide. If you try to get close, they disappear.”

Kavaliauskas began his wildlife photography career by taking shots of birds. But four years ago, he pivoted to insects driven by a desire to “see the unseen”. You can see more of the photographer’s insect close-ups on his instagram page.

Eugenijus Kavaliauskas