Sometimes the old and familiar takes you completely by surprise. Something you took for granted turned out to be completely wrong. Case in point . . .
I settled down this afternoon to practice taking macro photos again. For subjects, I had a small green worm, a hitchhiker in the eelgrass I collected for my hermits; and a carpet beetle.
The worm was fairly co-operative, given a tiny pebble to cling to for security. But there's not much to him; a long tube, green on the bottom, brown on top. A green spot at the head end. That's it.
|Full length, stretched out, about 1 inch. A ribbon worm.|
The carpet beetle was another story. After being incarcerated overnight (6 months in beetle years), he had one thought on his little mind: escape. I got dozens of shots of his retreating rear end. I gave him some grains of sugar, which did slow him down some, but only enough to gather energy for another run for freedom. Eventually I capitulated and put his glass plate over ice. Time slowed down. I got a couple of passable head shots.
|Facing his captor. Defiant.|
Even on a 1 mm. long beetle, coming in that close for a macro leaves a narrow band in focus. If I get the eyes, I get a blur for the body, and vice versa.
And at this distance, the flash works, but the beetle is in the shadow of the lens. I'll have to get a slave flash for better lighting.
|Same photo, processed in a different program, (free Picasa), with sketch lines added. They give definition to the scales and facial features, but fade out the colours.|
Now, here's the surprise. I've examined, fed, housed, cajoled, and photographed dozens of carpet beetles. I think they're pretty, with the orangey-brown, black, and white pattern. And they're available. They keep volunteering by sitting on my drapes or kitchen wall until I collect them. But other than the patterned back, the rest is done in a dingy battleship grey. Or at least, that's what I've seen.
But now I'm zooming in a bit closer, and the colours appear. In every photo from that distance, the legs show up green. The antennae are a reddish rust colour, the outer mouthparts green, the next ones in, white.
The camera overdoes the colours, so I desaturated them for the photo above; he's still wearing red, white, and green. I compared his colours to the worm's taken in the same spot. The worm is as I saw him, even at full saturation. Should I trust the camera? I'm not sure.
Now I'm sorry I released Mr. C. into the garden once the photo session was done. I need another carpet beetle! And a better light. What other glories have these critters been hiding all these years?