◊ A Ghost In The Making: Searching for the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee is an excellent short documentary by Day’s Edge Productions on the plight of an endangered bumble bee. It’s nice to see an excellent macro photographer like Clay Bolt working with entomologists in the field in the effort to publicize this situation. Read more about it in the photo essay, Forgotten but not gone: The rusty-patched bumble bee, and visit the Xerces Society for more on the conservation status of this bee, whose range once extended into Canada.
◊ The winners of the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards have been selected and the photographs are outstanding and at times disheartening. We as a species seem to be determined to wreck the earth, and some of the images presented here show how dedicated we are in achieving this. Go to the Invertebrates category to see the section winner and links to the other invertebrate finalists. Visit the Natural History Museum’s site to see all the finalists. Note that Tim Laman’s winning photograph was taken with a small action camera, the GoPro Hero4 Black!
And to end…
♦ This last week, I’ve been working on developing a portable high-magnification macro bench for focus stacking. Since 2014 I have dabbled with various temporary rigs, but I am now looking to make a system that is ready to use at a moments notice. The goal is to have a rig and a formalized process that will allow for a range of specimen sizes and shapes to be photographed at magnifications from 1x to about 50x. I am currently testing the viability of some of the many odd and old lenses I have (from reversed 16mm movie camera lenses to Zeiss Jena plan-achromats) before ordering more specialized optics. The challenges are many, from controlling the light to being able to move the subject tiny distances in various planes. The standards for this type of photography are very high, and it’s questionable if I have the adroitness and budget necessary to achieve that quality, but it will be fun trying.
*Note: the old image, with “Mr. Smith focusing on the camera screen”, comes from Nature through Microscope & Camera (1909) by Richard Kerr. It’s an odd book, published in London by the Religious Tract Society. In the introduction by Kerr, there is this paragraph, (which I first found in The Public Domain Review):
“There are too many places of amusement in our cities, too many trashy and pernicious novels in our free libraries … We do not suggest photography through the microscope as the remedy for existing defects, but we think that the more our young men take up intellectual pastimes the better it will be for the nation. This is one of those pastimes. It is not a selfish one. One enthusiast is a centre of usefulness to others, for he cannot keep to himself the enjoyment he receives from the study of Nature’s beauties and wonders.”
Today, I think we could equate the “pernicious” free libraries to how some see the Internet. I would find it hard to live without both, and I still would agree with the line, “...for he cannot keep to himself the enjoyment he receives from the study of Nature’s beauties and wonders.”