Spring Is Sprung

Nature is making its annual comeback

First signs of new life in a terminal bud from a red maple in our yard.

I’ve been waiting for spring; it wasn’t a hard winter but spring is vital and symbolic. I needed a few lines of spring’s poetry in my life; who doesn’t right now? Everyone is talking about it—a friend in Maine needed to mention it had not come yet; the birds are overwhelming our feeders with their urgency.

It’s time. A few warm days is all we’ve had, but the plants and the birds and the humans have figured it out. Remembered how it works: new life built on old, old life getting a spring in its step.

I have no idea what I see in that branch. What are the tendrils: Why did some buds erupts, while others sit there patiently? I’m just happy to see and feel and know spring again.

Technical info: taken with a setup I’ve had around for a while but have not used. I first tried to use a microscope objective on this, but at nearly 4x magnification, all you see is about half of the tippy top. So I pulled out a ‘machine vision’ lens I got last fall, a Cosmicar/Pentax 35mm f/2.8. It says “TV Lens” on it, but it’s not, it’s a high-resolution high-quality optic made for counting parts or examining them for quality problems; I’ll never know where it spent its life before it came to me via eBay. :)

I slapped a Nikon to Sony adapter on it, dialed in focus, and set the aperture to f/5.6. I knew from test images last fall (of cookies on a plate) that the lens was at its sharpest there. I used focus stacking, took images about half a mm apart, 60 of them, and that spanned a little over an inch of space. It was just enough to focus the front branch; I like the out-of-focus one in the background as an artistic touch.

I did the stacking in two groups (slabs) using Affinity Photo; as usual, it did a great job. The sharpness of the lens is astonishing to me; the tiniest little hairs on the bud scales are very clear. This is what machine vision lenses are for: minute details. That I can put it on my camera is a marvelous treat.