My first foray into the medium of photography was in making close-up images, technically called “macro photography.” Growing up in a city, even in rather suburban-like Northeast Philly, I had access to limited nature. My interest in nature drove my image making anyway. Because of this, I had to find my inspiration in very small areas (square feet instead of square miles). A macro lens allowed me to make images within a field of view of inches. At that level of exploration, everything becomes interesting and new.
Since that time, the content of my images has expanded to include every scale of nature (wildlife, landscape, even the universe!). Now I live on a farm (very un-city like). And, I find myself looking to explore again at the macro level. I find that I can express as much in the space of a few inches as I can in a landscape depicting a few acres.
Images of the macro kind are made with the same thoughts and feelings as any other type of image. I still deal with experiences, metaphors, color, line, shape, texture, light — just in a smaller area.
Above is an example of an image I made a while ago at Longwood Gardens (just outside of Philly). It is a minimalistic piece with strong color. The color content is harmonious more than complementary. The yellow against the red is very powerful. Keeping the brighter yellow as a small part of the image, I feel, keeps the image balanced.
“Just as you say that a body feels warm to the hand, so you might say that it feels red to what you see with” ~ Virgil C. Aldrich.
Soon after I started making pictures (over 30yrs ago), I quickly became enamored with “macro” photography (photography of small subjects working with specialized lenses which allow you to focus close to your subject). My first “serious” lens was a used Sigma macro lens. It allowed me to explore nature in a way that made even the yard of my Philadelphia apartment seem like a wilderness.
I continue to explore nature through this close-up photographic technique, although now I do it with a variety of close-focusing lenses and in natural areas rather more diverse than my Philly front yard. However, it is the visual simplicity that I can achieve with macro-photography that really keeps me going back to it.
In the case of the image below, a simple line (leaf edge) and the contrasting almost-perfect orb of dew create an image of simplicity and tension. I am drawn to water droplets as characters in my work. They appear as jewels on misty mornings, after a rain, or when the appropriate dew point and I intersect.
For this image I was working with a Canon 40D and a Canon EF 100mm f2.8 macro lens set at f2.8. I had a shutter speed of 1/640 and set the ISO to 400. I set the camera to Aperture Priority and metered in Pattern mode.
When I came across this amazing flower at Longwood Gardens, I was immediately taken by the color. I admit to being primarily a warm-tone personality, but the more time I spent with this blue beauty, the more enthralled I became.
I often start my visualization process by studying background possibilities. In this case, I was thinking blue-on-blue with some areas of highlights. Employing a variety of macro image making tools, I worked from angles that made me
appreciate the impact yoga has had on my flexibility. Shallow depth-of-field and longer focal lengths (up to 300mm) were techniques I used to attain the feeling and mood I wanted in the images.
For imagery like this, I use the tools that I am comfortable with, which means using anything that allows me to fulfill my vision. In this case, both Canon and Panasonic cameras and both Canon and Nikon lenses were used with adaptor where needed.