“A Real Bug’s Life” Brings Microphotography to the Forefront


What you’ll learn:

What National Geographic’s new docuseries is about.
Insight into insect behaviors and their worlds.
The technologies used to capture those lives.

 

Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” debuted on the big screen 25 years ago, and to mark the occasion, National Geographic decided to launch a new series entitled “A Real Bug’s Life”—a close-up look at some of the tiny creatures that inhabit the world. From jumping spiders to praying mantises, the 10-episode series tells their unique stories as they struggle to survive in their respective habitats, including city streets, rainforests, backyards, and the wide-open spaces of the African savannah.

The series, narrated by actress Awkwafina, goes beyond simply showcasing insect lives. It brings viewers into their worlds through the magic of advanced imaging technologies and techniques. From a photographic perspective, capturing intimate details of insects in their micro worlds is an incredible accomplishment, considering those creatures have no affinity to pose for the cameras, and setting up those beautiful shots was an ordeal of its own.

A Medical Path Toward Microphotography

Capturing the point of view from the insect side in tight spaces is no simple task and requires the use of specialized probe lenses initially designed for medical purposes, which are long, thin, and able to maneuver in close quarters. Managing to film those insects in their macrocosm adventures (Fig. 1) marks a dynamic shift from traditional macrophotography through the repurposing of medical technology, which helped to overcome some of the issues associated with confined spaces.



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