Down and close with nature

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

“We react not so much to what a photographer sees, but to how he or she sees and renders the subject for us.”
“Galen Rowell’s Vision The Art of Adventure Photography” by Galen Rowell.
Such is the case with micro photography. I get so close to my subject that I can smell the aroma of the flower or feel the breeze from the butterfly wings; So close that the water droplets on the leaves wet the side my face; So close that I have to wipe away the spider web from my glasses when I, back away.
In micro photography you are seeing another world that you pass by each day and never notice. It is almost like it must be to explore a deserted island or go into outer space and look back at the earth. There is an entire community of activity going on inside the heart of a flower bloom or the spider’s web.
The photographer uses nature’s subjects to organize the natural world into little windows of visionary compositions to organize our minds to see images that we normally would never know that they existed. I can’t teach people to see like I do, but I can share with the people what I see and raise the awareness of the viewers. Photographs “made by photographers” without seeing, have little meaning to anyone. If the photographer’s heart is not into the photo, there will be no emotion there for the viewer to react upon. I don’t just take a picture of what I see. I work with the subject in creating a true vision that I have seen in my mind.
It takes great patience to explore the micro world of very close up photography. The slightest breeze moves the subject out of focus.
I hold my breath on each exposure to steady my hands. I have only a small fraction of an inch of acceptable focus when working so close.
Then it is “pick and choose” the what and when to push the shutter release. It is a magical world of seeing the tight compositions come together in the camera with the micro lens in place. Often times the natural light is not very good when you move so close. I add my own available light with a strobe watching closely for terrible shadows that I might create unknowingly.
When my effort was completed over several days of working with nature, I came away with photos of water droplets on a lantana that pop at you. I got a good look at the staminal column and anthers of a hibiscus flower. The droplets on an asparagus fern in my garden sparkled like little diamonds. The female writing spider (Argiope aurantia) on the lantana bush didn’t seem to mind my visit on two occasions. The monarch butterfly was not as happy about my visit into his world, but he did pose for a few seconds before he moved on in his migration for the winter. Lying on the ground on my stomach to get close to the mushrooms wasn’t so bad as long as I watched for fire ant hills that were near my work area.
See photo page on 5A.