Observing Small Things

Macrophotography has always fascinated me and so when the Olympus 50mm f2 macro lens came out, I decided to add it to my lens inventory. It was a great lens, sharp as a razor, but very slow to focus. I also found that while it gave the equivalent focal length of a 100mm macro lens when compared to a full frame (35mm) lens, it was still usually too short for effective working distance, both for lighting and not scaring the subjects. So eventually I sold the lens and bought and extension tube that allowed me to use longer focal length lenses.

Spider on stamen - Melbourne Victoria

Spider on stamen – Melbourne Victoria

The 50-200mm lens worked a treat when it came to macro photography and the auto focus helped significantly on some subjects and hand holding the lens wasn’t an issue with the in-camera image stabilization, and working distance was much better.

Butterfly on leaves - Melbourne Zoo Victoria

Butterfly on leaves – Melbourne Zoo Victoria

Along the way, I somehow picked up a Nikon ED-IF 300mm f4 telephoto lens and found that it was not only one very fine lens for nature photography, but allowed me to do some fairly neat wildlife and macro work as well. The manual focus was more of a challenge, but when you got it right, it produced some great results.

Australian Image Photography

Butterfly on leaves -Townsville Queensland

Standard zooms also worked well when the subject matter suited and was willing to stay still long enough to be photographed and not go into attack mode.

Wasp on nest - Rockhampton Queensland

Wasp on nest – Rockhampton Queensland

Microscopy was also an area that I was interested in, but which magnified the challenges of macrophotography significantly. Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money on specialised equipment, I decided to build my own flatbed microscope from all sort of second hand and scrap materials. The end result worked quite well, but along the way I got kind of side-tracked and the build generated something unexpected. Oh well, it kind of looks neat as a talking piece. I’m now more into the conventional side of things when it comes to macro and micro photography, it helps to keep one focussed.

Olympus Electric Macroscope

Olympus Electric Macroscope

The insect world is the most prolific and ubiquitous form of life on earth, some suggest that were most of life to perish from some cataclysmic event tomorrow, the most likely to survive would be insects (notably cockroaches). Despite being reviled at every turn, insect is fact do provide an important and valuable contribution to our lives. Though I’m not so sure about bush flies and mosquitos and, for some reason, I find spiders to be fascinating creatures, though often annoying with their ever present webs.

Tiny Orb Weaver - Townsville Queensland

Tiny Orb Weaver – Townsville Queensland

It was on a trip to Rockhampton that I came across some of the biggest spiders I’d ever seen. We were doing an environmental survey of Shoalwater Bay area and when driving up a hill to get an overview of the area, the track up the hill was infested with these large orb weavers. They were not only on the sides of the track, but webs were all across the track as well and the front of the Landcruiser was awash with webs and spiders. My companion would not venture out of the vehicle with me when I went to take some photographs. Perhaps that was understandable.

Gigantic Orb Weaver - Rockhampton Queensland

Gigantic Orb Weaver – Rockhampton Queensland

Gigantic Orb Weaver - Rockhampton Queensland

Gigantic Orb Weaver – Rockhampton Queensland

And closer to home we have wee creatures that you can photograph with virtually a telescope.

Six-legged huntsman spider (about 35mm from fangs to tail) - Nunniong Plains Victoria

Six-legged huntsman spider (about 35mm from fangs to tail) – Nunniong Plains Victoria

It doesn’t matter where you look, you’ll find insects of every varied shape, size, colour and form about and, along with that, there will always be the ever present arachnids.

As a further update, I was going through some photographs I’d taken recently (late Autumn 2015) and spotted something that I’d missed while taking the photograph. The leaves at Mossvale Park were very photogenic in the early morning and I was oblivious to other goings on.

Mayfly on leaf - Mossvale Park Victoria

Mayfly on leaf – Mossvale Park Victoria

Mayfly on leaf - Mossvale Park Victoria

Mayfly on leaf – Mossvale Park Victoria