A new 10X magnifying lens has put me up close and personal with the way that plants bud out and flower.  I can now witness tiny insects traversing the minute mountains and valleys of an amazingly alien and technicolor world.


Insects massively outnumber us and will probably outlast us, and yet we have a very limited idea about how they view this world we currently share.  Their experience is so different: going through such multiple discrete stages of life from egg to larva to pupa to adult, and in most cases completing that arduous series of transformations in the cycle of a single year. ant-on-milkweed

For me, picking up this compact lens and observing native pollinators going about their business on a flower makes them seem a little less incomprehensible. I feel a real connection when they bury their heads into mounds of pollen because I love to breathe deeply when I push my face into the blooms of a lilac bush.  Flowers have amazing power to draw both humans and pollinators.DSC_0028

We were told at an Integrated Pest Management for Vineyards workshop we attended recently that in order to properly tend our vineyard, we will need a 20X lens to monitor the many pests and stay in step with what is happening as our grapes leaf out and fruit.  One of the many tasks I’m looking forward to as we plant and tend our vineyard is regular magnified missions.DSC_0017

These lenses take a little practice. They offer such a narrow focal length that some slow and careful maneuvering is required to enter this tiny territory, but the effort is well worth it. We found our lens online at Kooters Hand Lens Magnifiers for Geology and Earth Sciences. DSC_0035
One thing I like about a hand lens is that it comes on a lanyard, so I take it along on any outing. If I leave it behind, I usually regret it.
My love affair with the lens prompted Doug and I to give each other a macro lens for our camera as a mutual birthday present, and the pictures here are my first foray into “official” close-up photography. It’s allowing me to record and share some of the beauty I’m discovering through the hand lens. DSC_0057

These photos were all taken while walking down our drive to get the mail.

This magnified awareness makes it a little harder to mindlessly swat the random ant traversing what must seem to it a very strange and arid expanse across my kitchen counter.  (I do, though.)




12 replies

    • Hi Joanna,
      I feel a bit like an insect myself, trying to deal with the plants I am cultivating or combating this summer. They are my world, and it’s a very absorbing and demanding world.
      Looks like you have been very busy too.
      We have not gotten the torrential rains here, yet, but a few tornados have swept through our area and done great damage to neighbors.
      Our summer is, in fact, being very cool and moderate for the most part.
      Fingers crossed.

      • Yes very busy this year. At least we don’t get the tornadoes like you do, we do get smaller more localised ones though. It has been quite humid and hot this week, good haymaking weather but it is sapping – I can’t have it all ways I guess 🙂

  1. Lovely captures! The macro setting on my digital camera has suddenly stopped working and I really miss it. I’ve captured a several insects and a lot of close up flower photos and I loved the detail that one misses with the naked eye. I’m going to check into those lens, they look like a lot of fun.

  2. Your photos are wonderful! I’ve got a macro lens, too, and I absolutely love it.

    Will the insects actually let you look at them through the hand lens? I’ve never tried to use one, assuming that my looming face would cause them to flee!

    • Thanks, Cynthia
      I have better luck “looking” at the insects with the macro lens on my camera. I can stay a few inches away.

      I’m just a beginner at macro photography, but I’m finding that some insects are much more skittish about an approaching lens than others. The ants completely ignored me, and the smaller pollinators seem to get very absorbed in the flowers and don’t notice me, but bigger things like butterflies are harder to capture.

      With the hand lens, I tend to focus on plants more than insects so far. It’s a whole new and exciting world, isn’t it?

      • Ah, I feel better! I, too, tend to “look” through my macro lens! It’s amazing how much more I can see with that help!

        I used to have a hand lens, but lost it. I need to buy a new one. I forgot how much fun they are.

      • Hi Cynthia
        Now that I have both, I find good uses for both the camera lens and the hand lens. The hand lens is a lot easier to have with me all the time, and wearing it around my neck reminds me to take a deeper look when something catches my attention.
        I sometimes think about the world before magnifying lenses and what an overwhelming feeling it must have been to be one of the first humans to look through a microscope or telescope.

  3. Oh, Denise, I never thought about what it would have been like to be the first person to look through a microscope or telescope! How incredible that must been…..

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