Aug 24 2009

It’s a Small World: The View Through My Macro Lens

Macro photography opens up a whole new world. The familiar becomes extraordinary. Seemingly insignificant things blossom into view. Form, color, and contrast take on new meaning. Take a look at these pictures and see if you don’t agree.


Wet Daisy

A passing rain shower decorates trailside daisies with beads of water. Look at the patterns, the symmetry of the daisies “eye,” the tiny and larger droplets. The same shower wetted these Indian pipes deep in the woods:


Wet Indian Pipes

A wet summer is good for the woodland fungi. A long-ago windfall is carpeted with moss and tiny orange fungi I can’t identify:


Orange Fungi

Each mushroom cap is no larger than the nail on my pinky. The turkey tail fungi in the picture below—named because they resemble the splayed tails of wild turkeys—are each about the size of a quarter.


Turkey Tail Fungi

Let’s return to the moss, which in the picture here looks like a miniature forest:



Each “tree” is no higher than about two inches. Growing in among the mosses is this reindeer lichen:


Reindeer Lichen

During dry conditions the lichen is brittle and spiky, but when it rains, the lichen absorbs water and becomes springy. Frogs like wet weather, too:



And so do millipedes:



This one is about as big around as a pencil, and he deliberately chomps away at fallen leaves, doing his part to maintain healthy soil by breaking down organic materials which are in turn taken up by new growth. Millipedes won’t bother you, though this one looks rather ferocious:



This slug is anything but fearsome:



Spiders don’t bother me, but I’m not the size of a small bug, either:



This stonefly exoskeleton is attached to a rock where the nymph crawled out of the water:


Dragonfly Nymph Exoskeleton

In a miracle of nature, an adult stonefly emerged and flew off to eat mosquitos. Here’s a damselfly sunning on the riverside bedrock nearby:



Damselflies also emerge from their nymphal stage lived in moving water. Ants are land-dwellers, though. Along the bank, ants tended their flock of aphids and like cowboys, rounded up stragglers and herded them back into the main body.


Ants Herding Aphids

The heady perfume of sweet clover carried on the breeze, and I found it growing alongside the trail. Honey and bumble bees worked diligently to make the most of the short summer season.


Honey Bee

A wasp on goldenrod is dusted with pollen:



Feathers mark the flight of a grouse:


Grouse Feathers

But The River’s roar calls to me, and I entertain myself by photographing vegetation against a backdrop of rapids, beginning with this bough of white cedar:



The soft, feathery cedar bough contrasts with the spiky hemlock:



Delicate fern fronds are loaded with spores:


Fern Spores

Swamp maple is turning color early:


Swamp Maple

At my feet below the falls, foam collects in calm eddies alongshore:


River Foam

Upstream, where water tumbles through pools before plunging over the falls, a weathered knotted loop of polypropylene rope remains tied to a dead tree.



Through the magic of close-up photography, you can see how this synthetic rope breaks into smaller pieces but doesn’t decompose:


Polypro Rope

Backlit against the dancing waves and shadows, it’s rustically beautiful:


Backlit Knot

But it’s time to go. One last shot, not a macro, but of a calm pool reflecting the overhanging maple branches, while a frog warms on his flat rock:


Reflecting Frog

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