Sony F-717 digital
9.7mm (macro) at f8
1/125 second, ISO 100
Sunpak MZ-4400AF flash on off-camera cord
Middle:Canon Elan IIe, tripod
380EX flash w/ bounce card
Sigma 105 Macro w/ 36mm extension tube
Fuji Provia 100F
Exposure unrecorded
Bottom: Sony F-717 digital
48.5mm w/ OM 50mm f1.4 stacked on front, f8
1/125 at ISO 100
Sunpak MZ-4400AF flash, off-camera cord

Not Much of a Meal
grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio

grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio

When collecting water to replenish my aquarium, I found that going down at night was much better, not only because the water was usually calmer, but because there were more 'critters' to be seen. It necessitated using a flashlight, but my trusty waterproof Maglite has been in my possession for years and serves well.

One evening a couple of tiny reflections caught my eye, which turned out to be from the eyes of a minuscule transparent shrimp. With a scoop I quickly caught it, then lost it again as I was trying to transfer it to a holding jar. I was quite frustrated with myself, but on turning back to the water I found it had returned to the exact same location where I had just caught it. So I caught it again. Hey, survival requires being smarter than that!

Except that this grass shrimp (Palaemonetes pugio), and several more examples of the species, have been inhabiting my tank for months, so I suppose survival might involve attracting attention and getting a cushy and protected custom home. You never know.

Head to tail, this little bugger doesn't exceed 2.5 cm (1 inch). Initially I got very frustrated trying to get detailed shots like the one in the middle, since it required macro magnifications that have a very short depth-of-field, and this species is typically very active. You can see the fins under the tail that they use for swimming, which are usually a blur as they helicopter through the water. But every once in a while, they pause in place, allowing shots like the one at top, and the eye-detail at left.

This took a lot of attempts, since the macro method I used has a focus range measured in fractions of a millimeter – you can even see how the eyestalk itself goes out of focus. But it was worth it to see the mirrored-ball facets of the eye in close detail.

grass shrimp Palaemonetes pugio