Fellow photographer Randy Mitchell came out to our patch of green last weekend to photograph insects and spiders. I walked around with him a bit and found his knowledge of the myriad small creatures fascinating. You can see some of his efforts in this week’s Randy’s Natural World.

I recently lent him my Tokina 100mm f/2.8 macro lens, and he liked it so much, he bought one for himself and is having a great time with it, so much so that he told me it has become his new go-to lens for bugs.

I know there is a big insect photography scene, but I’ve never gotten interested in it. Photographing even largish insects well is something of a specialty. A good macro lens is just the start. Technique is key: tripods, extra lighting, small apertures, patience, patience, patience.

Once in a while I photograph a grasshopper or a butterfly, but this time of year is more interesting to me for color. Like Randy, I appreciate the life all around me when I cut the grass or walk the dogs, but I tend to lean toward expressing the bigger-picture beauty of our patch of green: the poke berries turning purple, the Virginia creeper leaves turning red, the maple leaves turning yellow.

And unlike Randy, I only occasionally carry my macro lens with me when I walk the dogs. I tend to gravitate toward lenses with large maximum apertures, like my 50mm f/1.4 or my 85mm f/1.8. Both give me the beautiful selective focus, and, especially this time of year, the ability to capture the fleet light at sunset. 

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