Extremes

“Me! Me! Take a photo of me!”

As a photographer, I often hear the opposite. “Don’t point that camera at me” (usually followed by a giggle and a pose). One exception is Rufus, who realises that the time I spend taking photos is time that is not spent throwing stones or sticks or reaching for the treat bag. But yesterday, as I was taking photos of the flowers in the garden, one bee decided it wanted to be part of the image. If you look in the top left corner of the image of the purple flowers, you’ll see it diving into shot. Later, it demanded modelling fees.

I was taking some more macro photos of the tiny world in my garden. Half the challenge is finding a suitable subject and another significant problem is wind. Stop sniggering at the back there, I mean natural wind that blows flowers and leaves around. It can prevent insects flying, disturb them and make focusing well nigh impossible. Focusing is critical with close ups, as the amount of the picture that is in focus is tiny and the slightest movement can create blur.

I was using extension tubes, which move the lens away from the body of the camera. The ultimate effect of this is to reduce the closest distance that the lens will focus on, making the thing you are photographing very large in the final image. At one point the front of the lens was less than an inch from the leaf I was trying to photograph. Although I was using a ring flash at this point, which gives an even light across the subject, my shadow and that of the camera was falling across the leaf and had already disturbed a small fly I had originally spotted on it.

Fast forward about 9 hours and the same camera, with a different lens, was pointed skywards in the hope of catching a Perseid meteor. These are the tiny fragmented remains of comet Swift-Tuttle, the tail of which we pass through this time every year. For a brief moment they flare as bright as the moon before burning up and finally settling on the earth as a fine dust. I’ve seen figures that suggest around 60 tons of meteorite material falls on the earth every day. Don’t quote me on that, though, as it’s from the Internet.

So from trying to focus on a leaf around 2cm from the lens, to trying to capture the flare of a meteor at an altitude of around 80km, it’s been a day of extremes.

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The Tiny World

Slurp. Squelch. Dammit. Squidge. Blast.

That’s me blundering into a hidden mass of boggy, sodden, muddy sludge on my way to a little river just off a lane of the main road to north Gower. I was trying out the macro lens I mentioned in the ‘Retail Therapy’ entry. I was weighed down my camera, lenses and tripod. It just helped me to nearly overbalance several times before finally reaching a relatively firm and dry patch of ground next to the water.

A small thing hanging from a twig

Thing

Once I’d got the camera set up, it was a matter of finding suitable subjects. I didn’t have anything in particular in mind. I wanted to see what there was and have a try at all I could find. I focussed in on a small flower but even in the almost non-existent breeze, it moved back and forth in the tiny field of view of the lens. I managed to get a few decent shots and moved on. I was looking for tiny things to really test the lens. I started to see things I would normally miss when not looking out for them.

There was a ‘thing’ hanging from beneath a small twig. It looked like a small ball suspended on a tiny thread.

I found a delicate spider’s web with a spider sat in the middle waiting for tea. I found more webs weighed down by debris.

Spider on a web

Spider

A small fly on a leaf

Fly

Before I knew it, I’d spent an hour shooting more than fifty photographs, and I enjoyed every minute. That’s what I love about photography – I can lose myself in it and it does wonders to de-stress me after a day locked away in the office. To me, that is what a hobby is all about.