Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Splendor in the Grass

Last week, displaying the kind of frugality that I am known for, I bought a macro lens (hey, there was a sale).

Now, although I have longed for a macro lens for a long time, I didn’t think I needed one in order to recognize and value the world around me. After all, didn’t I have a Ph.D. in biology? Wasn’t my dissertation research focused on intertidal marine invertebrates? Hadn’t I attended an extremely small liberal-arts college? Surely I was already well-primed to appreciate microcosms.

But the macro lens has not only brought into gorgeously clear focus the majesty of creatures I might usually dismiss as pests—it has made me realize that I too can look more closely at and see more of the beasts who go about their business all around me.

For example, during my lunch break on Friday, I happened to pass by some of the many ornamental grasses that homeowners in DC seem obsessed with planting. Because I had my new lens with me, I decided to give the grasses a second look, even though I was pretty sure there couldn’t be anything much in them

Imagine my surprise, then, to find a grasshopper—one of many—peering out at me as it clung to a blade of grass.

And that’s not all. In the few days since I’ve gotten the lens, I’ve seen more spiders, caterpillars, and bizarre shield-shaped beetle-y things than I’ve ever seen before.

[this tiny caterpillar is eating a rose petal]

And here I was, someone who was so smugly certain that I noticed what others didn’t—the hawk stooping for a kill, the snail poised on a stem.

It’s always nice to be reminded of the power that a new perspective—whether it’s brought about through a telescope, a magnifying lens, or a state of mind—has to make visible the humbling complexities of a universe in which other worlds exist below, above, within, around, and in the interstices of our own.

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


pattinase (abbott) said...

These photos are unbelievable. Such tiny creatures and all their features just jump to life.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

The detail is amazing, isn't it? (I love this lens!) And perhaps I'm just anthropomorphizing, but I swear I could see some expressions--the grasshopper, for example, looked really annoyed to be pursued by my camera...

biobabbler said...

Hear, hear!

Yes, yes, and yes. I LOVE when I take a photo of what I think is a little bug, then upload the photo and viewing it writ large on my computer I see ANOTHER, MUCH SMALLER bug I'd not even SEEN before.

So cool. I love how their world transports you to an entirely different scale with its own challenges, risks, rewards and strategies. Imagine pigging out on a pollen grain as big as your fist. =)

Apparently I am destined to be impressed by creatures at all scales.

I am SUPER psyched to see your new macro photos here. =) Congratulations, you are now BIONIC!

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