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    Science & Technology

    Captured in a flash

    By Lee Clippard
    Lee Clippard
    Published: July 29, 2010

    Entomologist John Abbott uses high-speed flash photography to capture insects, bats and other animals in motion around Texas. The technique gives him (and the viewer) the ability to see these creatures in a way that is impossible with the naked eye.

    In this slideshow, Abbott talks about a few of his insect photos. Some of his subjects, such as the phorid fly attacking the fire ants, are no larger than a pinhead.

    Learn more about the research that takes place at the university’s Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL).

    Read a transcript of the interview (PDF).

    To view a linked PDF file, download the Acrobat Reader plug-in for your browser.

    • Quote 2
      Webdesign Wolfsburg said on March 24, 2011 at 2:33 a.m.
      Very nice images and a nice Slideshow!
    • Quote 2
      Larry Lourcey said on Jan. 23, 2011 at 3:36 p.m.
      Truly amazing images. Funny how much is out there that we never notice day to day!
    • Quote 2
      David Lelong said on Oct. 13, 2010 at 12:34 p.m.
      Amazing slideshow with some unique photography. Stopping life in motion at such high speed is a gift.
    • Quote 2
      wordpress websites said on Oct. 13, 2010 at 1:15 a.m.
      I love photography and what Dr. Abbott has displayed here is amazing. A great video of not only describing the insects but the stunning shots as well. I definitely will be bookmarking this site to learn more. Thank you. Patrick
    • Quote 2
      Luis Lopez said on Oct. 10, 2010 at 1:42 p.m.
      Stunning images. I love the videos and pictures taken in slow motion, but never before had seen insects. Thank you for showing them.
    • Quote 2
      torrent download said on Sept. 21, 2010 at 9:28 p.m.
      Nice Bug... really rocks! thank you for sharing!
    • Quote 2
      sema tomsom said on Sept. 5, 2010 at 9:41 a.m.
      really nice bugs, i like it.
    • Quote 2
      John Milferd said on Aug. 16, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.
      Amazing!great shot of taking picture of the Phorid fly.Thanks for this high technology photograph its very useful.Hope you can invented more!!!
    • Quote 2
      Comedy Talk said on Aug. 16, 2010 at 3:35 a.m.
      Amazing photos. Gr8 work buddy
    • Quote 2
      Havey M. said on Aug. 8, 2010 at 10:37 p.m.
      Wonderful pictures thanks for the slideshow. It is amazingly hard to shoot these tiny insects.
    • Quote 2
      Adam S. said on Aug. 8, 2010 at 10:19 a.m.
      Wow, the photos are beautiful! About the phorid fly - intense! Thank you for sharing!
    • Quote 2
      Barbara said on Aug. 5, 2010 at 10:55 a.m.
      Beautiful photographs. Just amazing!
    • Quote 2
      dorothy dreux said on Aug. 5, 2010 at 9:52 a.m.
      I love the display. I'm especially interested in Dung beetles, one of my favorites. Also, I grew up on the land that is now BFL, and have very fond memories of collecting and releasing the insects that are in your photos.
    • Quote 2
      Larry said on Aug. 5, 2010 at 6:42 a.m.
      I like smashing bugs.
    • Quote 2
      grundt said on Aug. 5, 2010 at 12:45 a.m.
      I'm sure your slideshow is impressive ... unfortunately I can't see it. It would really be nice if you didn't make your content dependent on a plugin (I'm referring to Flash) that has been found to have numerous vulnerabilities that put users at risk ... especially when there are plenty of alternatives for presenting the content without any need for a plugin.
    • Quote 2
      John Clemms said on Aug. 4, 2010 at 1:57 a.m.
      awesome! you can see up close how beautiful every creature in this world is..even if it is small or big creature still they possess beauty on its own..thanks for the high tech cameras and good photographers..
    • Quote 2
      Martin Palmiano said on Aug. 4, 2010 at 12:50 a.m.
      nice shot! imagine from the low technology cameras up to super high-tech cameras that can capture every move of insects. this explains how a persons knowledge develops so fast. thank god for knowledge he given to us.
    • Quote 2
      John said on Aug. 3, 2010 at 1:41 p.m.
      Bill, Ray is exactly right on this. The camera is actually the most insignificant part of the setup. I use 24 flashes at a duration that results in an exposure of about 1/50,000 sec for these insect shots.
    • Quote 2
      Ray said on Aug. 3, 2010 at 10:18 a.m.
      In response to Bill's question above, I think that with enough flash units, the sync speed becomes irrelevant. Each flash unit must be set at a low power level in order to keep the flash to a minimum duration. By using multiple flashes of short duration, there is a strong but extremely brief flash which registers for a much, much shorter duration than the camera's sync speed.
    • Quote 2
      Bill Geisler said on Aug. 2, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.
      What is the cameras sync speed? this is the problem i have found with my slr. thanks, bill
    • Quote 2
      Tweets that mention Captured in a flash « Know -- Topsy.com said on Aug. 2, 2010 at 7:52 a.m.
      [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TexasMemorialMuseum, Jonas. Jonas said: High-speed insect photography at UT Austin. Awesome #science http://bit.ly/cFyKNM [...]
    • Quote 2
      Ian said on Aug. 1, 2010 at 9:03 p.m.
      Wow, i have a new respect for insects. So Mr. Abbot, since you have such a high respect for bugs, do you resist the urge to swat them away when they become a nuisance?
    • Quote 2
      fred behnken said on Aug. 1, 2010 at 5:10 p.m.
      John, These photos are absolutely amazing. Have you considered taking some of the photos to your neighborhood elementary and junior high schools? These kids can get really excited about another aspect of the great diversity of life on earth.
    • Quote 2
      AC said on July 30, 2010 at 6:11 p.m.
      "You must have JavaScript enabled and the Flash 8 plugin installed to view this content."
    • Quote 2
      Kumar said on July 30, 2010 at 6:06 p.m.
      Very good work. I believe observing the motion of winged-insects is also required to develop new helicopter designs.
    • Quote 2
      Kimberly said on July 30, 2010 at 3:20 p.m.
      What gorgeous colors!
    • Quote 2
      jen said on July 30, 2010 at 9:04 a.m.
      Phenomenal!!!
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