Sunday, 29 July 2012

Snakes and snails and puppy dog tails

I have always been fascinated by and a keen observer of all types of nature and wildlife. I may not know very much about it from a scientific point of view, but all the various shapes, sizes and colours have grabbed my attention since a young age. Although I don't remember it consciously, my mum will often remind me about the time when as a toddler, I went missing for a short while, only to be found sat in some long grass at the end of the garden cradling a frog.

Before I ever took the thousands of pictures of all different types of creepy crawlies that I do now, I would just follow them around the garden watching what they got up to. Even undesirable creatures such as wasps would fascinate me as they gently dug into our wooden fence to gather building materials for their amazingly intricate nests.

My love of photographing garden wildlife was sparked by a very lucky event one summer. Whilst shaping up to take a picture of some lavender, a kindly bumble bee happened to float into frame at just the right moment, opening my eyes to a new range of possibilities of what I could capture with even the most basic of cameras.

I'm a very inclusive nature photographer without discrimination - I love pretty much all the living creatures that I encounter. This often involves getting close to what many people would describe as 'pests'. Rats, flies, pigeons, squirrels, foxes - I've spent many happy hours stalking and photographing these beasties. But look closely at even the most common of creatures and you will see, what I consider to be, some beautiful and hitherto hidden sights.

The picture I'm sharing today is just an everyday housefly. Something that would usually at best cause mild annoyance and at worse, inspire you to seek out a rolled-up newspaper. But look closely (something that macro photography helps us to do) and you will see some amazing details and life in this little creature that knows only how to be a fly and fulfils this role perfectly.

What grabbed me most about this picture are the air bubbles within the main bubble. This tiny fly breathes the same air as you and I, and here we actually see the air bubbles being exhaled (who knew flies chewed bubble gum, right?). Seeing this made me feel a real sense of connection - the 'life force' that animates this fly is the same as what sustains all life on the planet.

My macro lens is only 40mm in length. This means I have to get within just a few centimetres of any subjects in order to capture 1:1 image magnification. Conventional photographic wisdom says that in order to photograph bugs or flies and the like, one needs to stand as far away as possible so as not to frighten off the subjects and therefore a lens of around 100mm is preferable. What I have found though and which this picture proves, is that with a respectful attitude, even a short lens can capture a great close up picture.

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