A field spider in its web at Trostle Pond on the morning of 30 July 2012.

I am NOT a fan of most insects in general – and especially not of arachnids in particular.  But somehow these garden spiders don’t seem to bother me quite as much.  And surprisingly enough, I’m okay with sticking a lens only a few centimeters away from them.  Well, so long as they behave and don’t make any aggressive moves towards me.  Or any moves at all…

I found a number of these guys out in the field at Trostle Pond the other morning, amid a dense fog.  There had to have been hundreds of webs spread through the grass and many of them had the builders poised in the middle.  Great chance to test out the new macro lens and I was able to get a couple of decent shots, even working hand-held.  (Out of fear that the tripod would destroy the webs while I maneuvered it in close.)

Dew drops hang from a spider web at Trostle Pond at sunrise, 25 July 2012.

Field grass, interlaced with spiderwebs, catches the first rays of sun at Trostle Pond at sunrise, 25 July 2012.

On a less creepy, crawly note, I was able to get a few other shots of more pleasing subjects.  Flowers are easy fodder for macro lenses, and I think especially for the beginner; they are ubiquitous and they don’t run away when you try to work with them.  And many of them are far more intricate – and interesting – up close than they appear at the casual glance.  Take Queen Anne’s Lace, for instance, which shows up mid-summer in just about every field.  Big, lacy white tops composed of dozens of small blossoms, each looking something like a tiny daisy.

Maco of Queen Anne's Lace at Trostle Pond on the morning of 30 July 2012.

Or this…whatever it is, that I found growing along an abandoned road in Lackawanna State Park.  It’s some sort of flower, although I don’t recall having seen it before and honestly it looks like something out of Star Trek.    It’s another hand-held shot, taking advantage of the large f/2.8 aperture to overcome the shadow it was in.

Strangel purple flower at Lackawanna State Park's east shore on the morning of 25 July 2012.

I think that the real joy in macro work comes from the element of exploration it contains.  It’s a view to a whole new level of the world, which is sometimes hidden and often just overlooked.  A places you’ve visited a dozen times before get a breath of fresh air to it; heck, a 2′ square section of your own yard can become a sort of micro-safari.  It’s definitely something I look forward to working with more.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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