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A Matter of Scale

February 28, 2015  •  1 Comment

When I post my photos, the image you see is not at all to scale.  The magic of digital macro-photography and the ever-useful cropping tool on my computer, enable me to display very tiny animals up close and in detail.  Yet part of the wonder of these creatures is the fact that they are so very, very small and only upon close examination can one observe how beautiful they are -- how exquisitely constructed. 

In an attempt to convey that sense of scale, here are paired images of a few fine looking insects. Each pair includes one photo shot from a distance, and the other taken close-up and in most cases cropped even closer on the computer.

A very small grasshopper on a blade of grassA very small grasshopper on a blade of grass









On the left, a minute grasshopper resting vertically in a grassy meadow. I was able to get a little closer for another shot (on the right), and I've rotated that image for a horizontal view.


  Green LacewingGreen LacewingOrder: Neuroptera

This Green Lacewing, barely one-half inch long, was perched on the very tip of a grass seed-head. Next time you're around grasses about to go to seed, look closer and imagine this little fairy resting on top.


  Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillarMilkweed Tussock Moth caterpillarYou can see the caterpillar's head on the right--a round, shiny black spot in between the bottom black tufts
Lincoln, MA

I was pretty gleeful when I spied these four brushy creatures (Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars) on a milkweed plant!  My thumb at the tip of the leaf adds to the sense of scale.  The one on the right, however, appears much larger than the approximately one-inch size it actually was.


A friend of mine recently asked how do I find my subjects?  I begin with going to where they live. Exploring their habitat, I walk in woodlands, fields, by ponds and streams.  I look closely at vegetation: flowers, shrubs, branches, twigs, bark, on and under leaves. Walking slowly I look ahead or down and sometimes crouch quietly in the grass. I look for movement and follow whatever it is to see where it lands. I also use binoculars, and in this next example I was slowly scanning the rock-wall edge of a pond when I came upon this pair of mating damselflies.  I quickly took a photo--see if you can find them:


This is a pair of Orange Bluet damselflies in the mating wheel.  Each barely one-and-a-quarter inches long and almost translucent in appearance, they are not easy to see. Below are two more photographs.  The one on the left is a cropped version of the one above. The close-up on the right was taken with a macro setting. It took lots of patience and many, many shots to obtain a decent image.  I was just plain lucky that the pair stayed put for as long as they did.


It's winter now.  At the moment the world I live in is ruled by giants.  I can't wait for summer. I look forward to again venturing down the rabbit hole, so to speak, into the tiny, enormous, and infinite world of insects.


Linda, once again you have guided this viewer from the mundane world of schedules and responsibilities to that place of wonder and awe.
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