The summer sun shown warm on the mesquite covered rangeland as I walked around the stock tank in search of anything that might present an acceptable photographic subject. Stopping at a small mesquite shrub near the waters edge, I noticed a flurry of activity within the limbs and leaves. Robber flies, rather intimidating looking insects, were busily flying about, some appearing to be in hot pursuit of other insects and actually making successful captures from time to time. Grabbing my camera with a macro lens attached, I began watching closely and was amazed to discover that these wonderful insects were actually capturing wasps, deer flies and other flying brethren for the purpose of having a feast! After making the capture, the robber fly would land on a branch and proceed to stab its proboscis into the thorax of the victim and for the next few minutes literally suck the body fluids from its prey before dropping the desiccated carapace to the ground. For the next several hours I had a great time in photographing these fascinating creatures as well as developing an appreciation for their tiny world and the fight for life and death within.
The macro world is an often overlooked aspect of photography that can be both an educational tool as well as an alternate source of subject matter that is most fascinating to the readership.
I purchased my first macro lens in the late 1970’s in a Canon FD 50mm f3.5 with an extension tube. In order to facilitate working in low light conditions I also purchased a ring light which would enable me to work in situations ranging from total darkness to normal lighted locations. Although having started my photographic career with longer lenses and bigger subjects in mind, the side trip to macro introduced me to a world easily as wild as the larger four legged quarry and, despite the small critters occupying that niche, quite barbaric in nature!
Many budding photographers find that the cost of a macro lens is a bit prohibitive but alternatives are there and most affordable. A set of extension tubes will cost less than 200.00 and allow photographers to utilize even the more common lenses that come attached to cameras when purchased. Go to your favorite camera outlet and order up a set of three “Extension Tubes”, my favorite being Kenko, and experience a whole new aspect of photography! Be sure and specify the manufacture of your camera when ordering. A sturdy tripod will be essential as camera shake must be held to a minimum when working at such a close and personal distance. Enjoy!!