There’s a grain of fiction, hidden within every truth.
There are hidden worlds, everywhere we look. They can be a part of us, growing and living inside our imaginations, or they can be real; curled up and concealed from our gaze. When spending time outdoors I think of these worlds. The trees hanging over my back fence from the neighbour’s yard are draped with multitudes of thick curling leaves. They cast shadows against the fence, creating patterns that have never been witnessed by anyone else in the history of the Universe, nor ever will. I seek out the denizens of the yard, hoping they will be willing to parade themselves for me.
Armed only with a smart phone and a clip on macro lens, I’ve been able to see insects and tiny creatures like never before. It’s an amazing thing, being able to get so close to these aliens in our backyards. I have become kind of hooked on it myself.
The main take home message of this post:
Don’t go blaming a lack of expensive equipment for being unable to photograph insects and other small organisms!
Here are some images of insects and other arthropods using only these cheap little tools. I’m not an entomologist, so identification of these beasts is not my primary focus. It’s enough to get up close and personal with them.
We start with a personal favourite. A damselfly with wet wings, crawling along a blade of grass by a pond. I spotted this beauty whilst exploring some wetlands near my home. The Greenfields Wetlands, according to the City of Salisbury website are “one of the first large, constructed urban wetlands in Australia.” They are quite impressive, to my own biased eyes, and are worth a visit if you’re a nature minded visitor passing through the area. More information on the wetlands can be found here.
Generally, being flying insects, damselflies are quite difficult to photograph. They are both extremely alert and agile. Their maneuverability upon taking wing is impressive. I think the secret to photographing quick flying insects such as damselflies or dragonflies is this:
Oh, and being quiet helps. Nothing clears out a bustling little patch of grass or foliage like some big noisy human smashing their way through.
Damselflies, along with their bigger meaner cousins dragonflies, belong to the Order Odonata. This is an exceedingly ancient group of insects, which has been terrorising small insects since Permian times. Damselflies live near slow-moving streams or ponds. Their presence indicates these bodies of water are in fairly good shape. Conversely, this also means that these beautiful insects are quite sensitive to environmental degradation. An introduction to these fascinating insects can be found here.
It appears that these insects don’t get out much during the colder months. Winter has just begun here in Australia, and damselflies, as well as their cousins dragonflies, have become a little shy. This next image was a lucky catch, taken several months ago at a different location.
Mutton Cove Conservation Park is located behind a large tract of abandoned industrial land called Pelican Point near Outer Harbour in Port Adelaide. It’s one of those places teenagers gather to do whatever they do away from adult eyes. The road through it is covered in skid marks and charred tyre fragments. It’s been a neglected place, strewn with rubbish and pollution over the decades. Despite this, it’s actually pretty interesting to explore, and so that’s what I do sometimes. Just remember when going there: take protection.
Mutton Cove was a lot of fun. Not just because nature was running riot here, but because there were shipwrecks to explore! Who could possibly resist a chance to climb around on some rusted out hulk?
For those of you who have Periscope (the fantastic live streaming service offered by Twitter) I did a ‘scope whereby I (attempted) to get on board and get a look around. The mud defeated me, dagnabbit. Next time. Anyway, follow me on Periscope, and come for a wander around Mutton Cove:
This damselfly had striking red eyes. The eyes are a very prominent feature of these insects, and attests to their agility in flight.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek through the lens at some fascinating insects. I will be adding more posts along these lines frequently. Thanks for reading!
I will be interviewing a real live space explorer soon! This person is working on a CubeSat mission, which may accompany the payload onboard the Japanese Space Agency’s mission to the moons of Mars! Read about this mission in an earlier post.