Monday, May 9, 2011

Seeing Small

For Mother's Day Sweetie was given a new camera.

Now, Sweetie hasn't been a big photography nut in the past.  But in her line of work, it's a good thing to be able to shoot a picture that she can then send to someone via email.  The cell phone has a camera, but that camera isn't very good.  It's the lowest common denominator, the kind of thing a manufacturer adds to a phone to be able to say the phone has a camera.  Had there been a model without a camera, I might have gotten that one instead, that's how much I rely on and am impressed by this phone camera.

But moving on!  This new camera of Sweetie's is quite something.  It's conveniently small, small enough to ride in a shirt pocket without causing any discomfort.  It claims many, many megapixels of resolution (especially compared to the phone camera), a modest zoom, the usual stuff.

But the pictures are where the story really lies, aren't they?  And what pictures.  I'll try to get Sweetie to dump a few into an email so I can post them here.

Imagine an iron crank wheel, about a foot across.  It's used for raising the control gate on an old watermill close to where I live.  On this crank wheel are a few bugs, a couple of spiders.  Sweetie shoots pictures of them, raising their forelegs in aggressive stances to ward off the camera.  There's also an ant.

Look at your thumb, at your thumbnail.  See the pale half-moon shape at the base of the nail?  Unless you're six years old, that pale space is big enough to fit this ant, maybe two of them.

But is it an ant?  It moves like an ant, looks just like an ant, but as I watched, it lost its footing and fell off the wheel, as it walked around upside down, on the wheel's underside...

...and then climbed back up an invisible thread.  I shot a few pictures of this tiny bug.  Later, blowing them up on the TV until the ant itself was depicted nearly a foot long, we could clearly see: eight legs.  Those front two, tapping and waving like antennae, are legs.  It's an ant-mimic spider.

Sweetie shot a picture of a jumping spider on a rock.  At regular magnification it looks like a lump of lichen next to other lumps.  Blow it up and it gains definition until it's a little monster, gazing placidly from its many eyes, watching for food and threats.  It's really quite handsome.

Fuzzy caterpillars become pale grey caterpillars hiding under thick tufts of individual bristles.  They look so soft and cuddly when they're small; blow them up and their faces look like they belong on fruit bats.

One excellent picture shows the track of a leaf miner inside a rudbeckia leaf, as thin as a pencil line on one side of the leaf, expanding to become as wide as a thick marker line by the time it gets to the other side.

And that's another weekend morning spent without TV.

In other news: there's been some kind of weird fly hatch in my office.  The place is absolutely lousy with flies, big slow ones.  Time for the flypaper.

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