Saturday, June 18, 2022

Seeing Photo Opts in a Macro World


Orange Peel Fungus, Aleuria aurantia

I landed in Mexico City during college with two years of high school Spanish. I could ask where to find a library or what your name might be, but seemed unable to listen fast enough to understand the responses. I remember trying to adjust my ears. Turn up the listening speed to muy rapido. The sensation has recently been repeated with my eyes. I bought a 100 mm macro lense to attach to my cell phone and have found myself struggling to see on a different plane of existence.

                Great black wasp

As I try to focus the rectangular field of my phone screen, I struggle with a plethora of unexpected minutia. Bug eyes of a great black wasp, the subtle colors of a tiny mushroom, or the roughness of a snail’s skin. I find myself trying to see faster.

I am coming to appreciate the blur of the backgrounds for their potential for beauty.

Slice of a downed river alder trunk with a background of wood chips and lichen.

Both newer iPhones and androids have built-in macro lenses, but none equal the ability of a 100 mm attached lenses. When I stopped to take a photo of a buttercup with drops of rain, I looked through the macro lenses and discovered a caterpillar creeping along the edge of a petal.

Startled by the bounty found in a square inch (or an equivalent square 6.452 centimeters), composition seems almost secondary. The hardest task is holding still and catching objects motionless between light wind currents. Only later, does the background or the composition seem important. This is where I find myself trying to “see” faster. 

Looking at the mushroom again. This is a comparison of its size with my fingernail.

Once I switched the focus of my phone lens, I took a number of shots before I became aware of the soft curve of the blurred mound of moss to the right of the stem and centered it in my lens for a better composition.

Although the macro lenses feels heavy in my pocket, I don’t head out anywhere without it. 
Even in built-environments, I find macro worlds.

The screw on a cigarette butt can with the remnants of a tiny leaf folded across the cut are beautiful.

I am coming to realize that the world is more populated than I envisioned. And fungi and bugs and roots—even those in a vase in the sun— exist; although most days, I don’t see them as I swish through the world at my human pace. The macro lenses is making me walk slower to examine the world and speed up my sight to see its beauty.


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