Public domain image by Alex Wild, from the University of Texas ‘Insects Unlocked’ project. 

The University of Texas has initiated a new crowdfunding campaign that, if successful, will result in macro photos of insects being released into the public domain. The photos will be taken by the university’s Insect Image Lab under the guidance of Dr. Alex Wild, who is both the school’s curator of entomology and a professional photographer (also a confirmed ant photography enthusiast). The funding for the project will be used to support the students learning to use the imaging system, to improve the photography hardware, and to help pay for the Web hosting.

From Flickr: Test image of easter tiger swallowtail hind wing, at high magnification, from the UT imaging system. 

The macro rig itself is built from off-the-shelf parts, and its construction is detailed by Wild in Scientific American should you want to build your own. The project is set to start this summer if it is successfully funded.

The fundraising is taking place on the University of Texas’ Hornraiser site, where $8,000 USD is being sought. So far nearly $7,000 has been raised and there are 22 days remaining. A donation of $20 will get the backer public acknowledgement on social media, while higher donations include perks like prints of images, remote work with the team to get images of a specific subject, and access to the photography system itself, depending on the amount given. For now, you can take a look at some initial images on the project’s Flickr.