Monday, March 8, 2010

Learning to See: Looking at the Details

Sometimes we are so captivated by the sweeping grandeur of grand vistas, that we fail to notice the beauty in the details. The breathtaking colors in the sky grab our attention - but what about that tiny seed pod that seems to glow from within as it it touched by those last fingers of light? Does it end up crushed under our feet as we rush to get the sunset shot? Are you guilty of the same crime?

When the light isn't perfect, Varina always pulls out her macro lens. At Banff National Park, we spent most of a bright, sunny morning exploring Sunshine Meadows. The mountainsides were covered with wildflowers – and thousands of wild Anemone's that had lost their petals were going to seed. Their wispy heads were beautiful against the green meadow grass, and it would have been easy to cast a shadow for a nicely lit, if somewhat standard shot. Instead, Varina went in search of something different. She found this anemone in a shady and cool alcove near the lake. It's downy head was a brighter white than many of the others, and the sun had not yet burned the dew away. She set up her 180mm macro lens and waited for the wind to die down before shooting. The lovely head of the anemone flower is beautiful on its own, but the minuscule water droplets take the shot beyond the ordinary.Although Varina has loved macro photography for years, Jay only ventured into the land of macro recently. He photographed this ghost crab with a 180mm Macro lens on island of Kauai in Hawaii. He sat in the sand for half an hour, and waited for the tiny, nearly-invisible creatures to venture out of their holes. The tiny grains of sand you see so clearly, here, are wonderfully smooth under your bare feet, and the crab measures only about an inch and a half in size... including it's legs. It takes real patience to photograph these skittish little crustaceans.

The macro lens is great - but what if you don't have one? Just look for larger details, and include background in your shots. Jay took this photograph of water droplets on a leaf last Fall with Canon's 17-40 F/4 lens.

And here's a shot from the Everglades in Florida, taken with a Canon 135mm f/2.0 prime. This is the lens we usually use for photos of our kids up on stage during a school performance. The lens you own may not be intended just for shooting details - but that doesn't mean you can't use it for that purpose!
During our workshops, we try to encourage student to venture into the world of detail photography when the weather is not particularly attractive for grand vistas. Here's a shot from our most recent on-location workshop in Death Valley. These crystals were only a few millimeters in diameter.So next time you are looking for inspiration under an uninspiring sky... stop and take some time to examine the details. Maybe there is a photograph right in front of you!

What lens do you use for detail shots? Do you have a true macro/micro lens - or are you making do with another lens? Do you have any tips for others who are trying to find beauty in the little things? Comments are welcome and appreciated... we know you have something to offer other photographers! We are all learning from each other!

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Anonymous Paul Marcellini said...

Glad you are adding to the crab collection. =) Love em all. Hope you guys are doing well.

March 8, 2010 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Varina Patel said...

We were loving the crabs in Hawaii! I love Jay's shot, here - and I got a shot of a bigger crab that I'm happy with. But the shot from Florida is still the best of the crabs! Thanks for the lens!

March 8, 2010 at 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Reviewulver said...

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March 27, 2010 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Varina Patel said...

Thanks so much! We're glad you found us! I hope you'll keep on coming back. We'll try to keep things interesting.


March 27, 2010 at 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Reviewulver said...

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April 12, 2010 at 3:13 PM  
Blogger Varina Patel said...

We try to respond to all emails and comments - though that's easier said than done! We'll keep trying anyway!

April 12, 2010 at 5:34 PM  

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