During the past couple of years, as I’ve transitioned from strictly a net-wielding entomologist to one that also carries a camera, I’ve had to start making choices about whether to keep the camera in the backpack or hold it at the ready, and if the latter which lens to keep on it. They are situational decisions, influenced largely by what I’m focused on (heh!) at the time—keeping the camera in the bag facilitates collecting, but it also tends to reduce the number of subjects I deem worthy of the setup effort required to photograph them. Conversely, carrying the camera out of the bag greatly impedes collecting but results in much more photographs having been taken. Even when I do decide to carry the camera at the ready, which lens should I have on it—the 100mm for tiger beetle-sized and larger, or the 65mm for tiger beetle-sized and lower? (Annoyingly, most tiger beetles are right at that life-sized threshold, and neither lens alone allows me to float above and below 1:1 for the full range of photos I like for them. As a result, I sometimes end up with extension tubes stacked under the 100mm lens to give me some extra range above its normal 1:1 limit.) I wish there was some way to have the camera with either lens at the ready (and not impeding net swings would be even better), but that just isn’t possible. As a result, I sometimes find myself with the wrong lens on the camera when I see something I want to photograph. If it’s important, I’ll go through the trouble to switch out lenses—hopefully quickly enough to avoid losing the photographic opportunity; other times I might just decide I don’t really need the photo that badly. Then there are times when I feel a little adventurous and will just go ahead and take the photo anyway without switching lenses.
The following is an example of the latter—an eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) photographed with the 65mm lens (minimum magnification 1:1). Not only is this the first time that I have succeeded in approaching one of these lizards closely enough to take a good photograph, but the short working distance of the 65mm required that I get extraordinarily close. He was on the side of a fallen log, and I approached from the other side crouching low, then slowly (slowly!!!) peered over the edge of the log until I had his head in focus. I got off just this one shot, as the flash caused the lizard to bolt for good. The angle could have been better, but I got the eye focused spot-on so it’s a keeper.
I wonder if anybody else has ever photographed a 6-inch long lizard with a 65mm lens…
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2011