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Dew on grass. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Dew on grass. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Flower fly on pasque. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Flower fly on pasque. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Dew drop. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Dew drop. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Orange moth. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Orange moth. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Star lily. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Star lily. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Photos by Christian Begeman.
Photos by Christian Begeman.
Ant attack. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Ant attack. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Dew on spider web. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Dew on spider web. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Inside a prairie rose. Photo by Christian Begeman.
Inside a prairie rose. Photo by Christian Begeman.

The Little Things

Sep 6, 2011

South Dakota is known for beautiful, wide open spaces, but did you know that compelling images can be made in a seemingly boring pasture or even your own backyard or garden? Up until last year, I had occasionally heard the term “macro” photography but really didn’t pay that much attention to it. Big mistake! Once I got a macro lens on my camera, my world of photography was literally given a brand new dimension to play in.

A macro lens is engineered to allow a photographer to focus on things that are very near to the camera lens. This allows for amazing close-ups of the little things. I have found interesting images in the pistils and stamens of colorful wildflowers as well as intriguing detail of things that normally would make you squirm, like bees, beetles and moths.

In early June, the temperature dipped to 38 degrees in Pierre, SD overnight. I happened to be out at Isabel Lake that morning as the sun came up. All the low lying areas were thick with fog and one of the heaviest dews I have seen in West River. I spent a couple hours wading and kneeling in the prairie grasses getting dew shots on grass and dew shots on spider webs and dew shots on pretty much anything I could see. It was really quite magical. When I got home, it looked like I had waded in the lake all morning as I was that soaked to the bone. Leave it to South Dakota to offer up such diversity in weather and photo opportunities!

The next day I was out looking for Prickly Pear Cactus blooms on the river hills and found some amazing drama on a rock face. A Dung Beetle had wandered too close to a foraging group of red headed thatching ants. The (relatively) big beetle had no chance as the ants firmly attached one to each leg and was pulling the beetle taut so he couldn’t move. It was really amazing to see, although I had to move on before the drama was over as the ants quickly discovered me and were half way up to my knee before I left. Until next time, enjoy the South Dakota scenery (and the little things)!

Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midcontinent Communications he is often on the road photographing our prettiest spots around the state. Follow Begeman on his blog, www.cbegeman.blogspot.com

Contact Christian Begeman via email: begs@rocketmail.com

Comments

06:28 am - Wed, September 7 2011
Laura said:
These are lovely. Thank you for the perspective.
06:47 am - Wed, September 7 2011
Katie said:
Besides buying a macro lens do you have any other technical advice for taking sharp macro shots?

02:57 pm - Wed, September 7 2011
Bernie Hunhoff said:
Good piece. The closer you look at nature, the more you think there must be a God.
09:00 am - Fri, September 9 2011
Christian said:
Thanks for the nice comments. Regarding technical advice, that is such a good question. Mostly because I can think of 20 or more different answers for you. If I had to pick a few things that I think are the most important it would be:
1. Know your camera (take time to learn what features and functions you have outside of the "automatic" mode, then go test them out).
2. Pay attention to the light. Contrary to popular belief, bright sunny days may not be the best time to shoot photos. Early morning and late afternoon/evening light is the best time to be out and shooting outdoor scenes.
3. Join a photo enthusiast group where you can submit photos for review. I've recently joined a group here at Midcontinent and it is amazing how shooting with a clear goal in mind helps me focus on getting a better shot. Plus you can see and learn what others are doing and constantly get better.

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