Not too long ago I got a cool little photo gift–a small detachable macro lens for my iPhone. It has a little clip (kind of like a clothespin) that fits the macro lens right over my phone’s native camera lens. The fun thing about a macro lens is that it lets you get close up and magnify tiny things so you can really see them.
During Tuesday’s lunch break I decided to attach the macro lens to my phone and head out into the backyard in search of a photo subject. The milkweed is looking quite sickly. There are a few flowers, but the leaves have been stripped clean. Upon close examination, I did find a caterpillar–the monarch variety–cruising the stripped branches. I leaned in, took a deep breath, and held as steady as possible to snap a few photos of the yellow, white, and black crawling creature. It was a pretty big one, so I ended up with a head shot rather than a full body portrait.
Then I turned my attention to the lavender. I love the way that lavender has tiny blossoms that make up the bloom. I aimed the macro lens at the individual blossom–and then I saw them! The tiniest ants were crawling in and out of the blossom. I moved the lens away and looked closely. I could make out the tiny ants, just barely, without the lens. I snapped a few different shots of the tiny ants exploring the blossom and then my questions started emerging. Are these ants pollinators? Do they help or hurt the lavender? What about these tiny ants–are they a different species than the regular ants I’m used to seeing, just smaller?
I love the way taking photos also creates opportunities for research and learning, piquing my curiosity as I notice something new or unexpected. Photography keeps reminding me to look at the world through fresh eyes, changing my angles…or just the camera lens!