Bigger and Smaller – UW Macros

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My Grandmother’s house was full of treasures. I was allowed to play with some of them. Going to Grandma’s was like getting out of jail. I could “express myself” ’til the cows came home. While other boys were playing with dump trucks and fire engines (small ones, of course) my favorite toys were a pen knife and a magnifying glass. You don’t need much imagination to understand that Grandma’s yard was a dangerous place for insects and other small organisms.

I can’t say how many ants were mercilessly torched by that magnifying glass. Many fat grasshoppers fell under the knife and were dissected for the sake of knowledge. I honestly don’t know if insects suffer while undergoing such treatment; it can’t be much fun for them. I’d like to think that I’ve made amends as an adult. Since I stopped hunting (with a gun) years ago, I’ve made it a point to harm nothing. I’ve grown to enjoy the tickley sensation of a spider navigating the forest on my arm. My motto is, if it doesn’t try to hurt me, I won’t try to hurt it. Mosquitoes beware!

All that claptrap was just to get to this. Little things are fun to examine, if you can get them big enough to see. For example:  here is a slightly larger-than-life image of a colony of the Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica):Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica)Each individual polyp is about half of the diameter of a pencil eraser.

Now, let’s blow them up to see how they are made:Organ Pipe Coral (Tubipora musica) [enlarged]Hmmm . . . quite a revelation. All of that detail is hidden from our knowledge without the aid of something more powerful than the Mark I Eyeball. We wouldn’t know about the delicate fringes around the ‘petals’ and the oddly shaped yellow doohicky in the centre. We can only wonder what they are for, but now we can at least see them. Knowing a little about invertebrates, I can tell you that form follows function. Everything you see there has to do with eating, excreting or making more polyps. That’s about it for coral. It’s a simple life. No big brain to get bored. No brain at all!

Here is another coral (Pachyseris speciosa)  that is mildly amusing, in a very wrinkly way, but not likely to inspire a sonnet:Coral (Pachyseris speciosa)Oh, wrinkly, wrinkly coral. Your colour unlike sorrel. Not thought to be immoral. blah blah blah – you get the picture. It’s a long reach.

But wait! If you blow it up . . .Coral (Pachyseris speciosa) [enlarged]Now it’s getting more interesting. What the heck is  that? You could write something creepy about that. It’s like a million wiry snakes all making love to each other (where did that  come from?). Anyway, it’s more interesting.

Here is another specimen of Pachyseris speciosa  with Seriatopora caliendrum  towering over it:

Coral (Pachyseris speciosa)
There is quite a bit of colour variation between specimens. I’ve seen a few that were green, but that may be from algal contamination.

I’ll finish up with one of my favourite little things, the lovely Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus):Christmas Tree Worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)Pure white ones, such as this are not common. There are about a zillion base colours and a gozillion ways to mix them up. The little parasols come in pairs, as they are both appendages of the same individual worm.

To annoy you further, I cheerfully ripped this section from Wikipedia so that you may be fully informed.

The worm is aptly named; Both its common and Latin names refer to the two, chromatically-hued spiral structures that are most commonly what is seen of the worm by divers. In actuality, these multicolored spirals are merely the worm’s highly-derived respiratory structures.

S. giganteus  appears like most tube-building polychaetes. It has a tubular, segmented body lined with chaeta, small appendages that aids the worm with its mobility. As it does not move outside its tube, this worm does not have any specialized appendages for movement or swimming.

The worm’s most distinct features are the two “crowns” that are shaped like Christmas-trees. These “crowns” are actually highly modified prostomial palps which are specialized mouth appendages of the worm. Each spiral is actually composed of feather-like tentacles called radioles, which are heavily ciliated which allows any prey that are trapped in them to be transported straight towards the worm’s mouth. While they are primarily feeding structures, S. giganteus  also uses its radioles for respiration. It is because of this that the structures are commonly called “gills”

Now, when Santa comes, you can engage him in a conversation that will daze and confuse him.

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5 Responses to “Bigger and Smaller – UW Macros”

  1. Wencke Says:

    What’s it like to be in PNG while it’s Christmas Time? Or do you even remember what it’s like to be in a Western Country when it’s winter? I just thought about that for I feel really cold at the moment… it’s freezing outside! We’re going to have snow tomorrow… the first snow in decembre for years! Well… last year I was in Australia in decembre… it was weird… so few chocolate santas 🙂
    But I simply can’t imagine to be in PNG while it’s Christmas Time!!!
    Eating your strawberries while we’re eating nuts 🙂
    Tell me about it, please!
    Oh… and I’ll send you a snow pic as soon as everything is covered in white!!

  2. Steve Goodheart Says:

    Hey MadDog….loved the comparison shots….I’m just starting to figure that all out….most of the time, my zoom-in ends up blurry…drat! but I’m getting better at it….

    I enjoyed the wiki info too…hadn’t look the little guys up yet…..I ready to dazzle Santa, or whoever it is that comes down Buddhists’ chimneys…. 🙂

  3. MadDog Says:

    Wencke, Christmas has never felt right for me here. Though I hate cold weather, I miss the snow at Christmas time. It’s been since 1990 that I have been in a northern climate at Christmas time.

    We usually have a big party up at The Blueblood Hilton on Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Everybody is out swimming in the beautiful warm water while Santa is getting his suit on.

    We bought a huge buket of highlands strawberries when we were up there the last time. We’re hoarding them in the freezer for special treats.

    Yes, please send me a snow picutre. Thanks for reading, Wencke.


  4. MadDog Says:

    Hmm . . . the blurry thing shouldn’t happen if you have your camera set on macro and you are carefully checking that the auto focus is focusing on the subject instead of the background. That is the most common cause of ‘blurry subject’ for me. This is where a big screen helps. When I do a macro shot, it there is a lot of deptn in the scene, I have to fiddle around with the framing and zoom to make sure that the subject is in focus and not objects further away. Some cameras have several varieties of auto focus available. You might want to check that.

    Also setting your camera on Apature Priority and closing down the lens (higher F number) as far as you can (usually f8 for f16) will give you greater depth of field.

    If Buddhists have left desire behind, why would Santa bother? 🙂

  5. Steve Goodheart Says:

    I really need to figure all this out…I’ve already lost some really great shots through blurriness. With my simple little camera, it’s very hard to see, sometimes, just what the camera thinks it’s focusing on.

    As for the other tips, I appreciate it, but you are describing features on a Ferrari to my Ford Pinto, sorry to say! 🙂 But I am saving these tips for when I do upgrade my camera, which I’ve started to think about since hanging around with guys like you! LOL! 🙂

    Why would Santa bother? 🙂 Well, Santa is a good Christian and he has pity on us poor pagan Buddhists! LOL! Don’t you remember that Bible verse where Jesus says, “Did you visit the Buddhists, and do good for them, along with the weak, poor, and needy? Then you are indeed my sheep.” I’m pretty sure I saw that somewhere…….