I always wanted a microscope.

I did. I added them to all my Santa lists and birthday lists, up until the point I actually got my hands on a microscope. It was underwhelming. Whatever it was showing me, it was not what I wanted. So, I stopped pestering my relatives to get me one, and kept receiving truckloads of board games instead (which was also underwhelming because, back then, I was a single child).

Then I became an adult, and then (much later) I got disposable income, and then I got myself a microscope. And it still sucked.

It could have ended there. I could have had savings. But no. I had to impulse buy a camera, and figure out what I actually craved for: “macro photography”.

I want to “zoom, enhance, zoom, enhance” stuff like I’m on CSI.

Behold! A flower.

Macro photograph of a cherry blossom

I went and got myself extension tubes (which are, basically, tubes, which you put between the lens and the camera to get a better magnification). As every single purchase of photography gear, it got me to investigate and order more gear, because photography is a hellish hobby, and you should NEVER TRY IT.

But, anyway, I am very happy to get to see small things, but bigger, and I immediately tested the extension tubes + my macro lens on a flower after trying and failing to take decent shots of insects. Flowers are nice, because they don’t scamper off, unless there’s wind. And if there’s wind, you can just hold them. Nobody will know.

Back to the zooming

Thanks to the tubes, I can now get pretty stunning detail on bugs that are around 4-5 mm, like this mite :

A red spider macro shot

It’s however even harder to get proper exposure and focus, which means I’ll have to practice. A lot.

I struggle with insects because they are small, they move, and sometimes they fly up trees when they notice me. Getting the proper combination of shutter speed and aperture kind of requires the stars to align. Not enough sunlight, and every picture is underexposed; if the sun is too high, the contrast is awful.

Also, even when the sun is where I need it, I can still get the aperture wrong, and only a millimeter thin slice of the bug will be in focus.

My solution to this is to throw obscene amounts of money at the local photography store. The proper solution is practice.

Wish me luck and an attention span!

Bonus: Photobombing

No extension tubes for this one, but here’s the true “outside macro” experience: a tiny bug peeking in while you’re taking pics of something else entirely.

Bee foraging on a willow bud, with a tiny bug on the bud

irch catkin bug detail