Thursday, April 10, 2008

Getting Close with the Macro Lens

I'll often end a still life session by just popping the macro lens on my camera and getting close. I love to look for sensual shapes and blocks of color when viewing flowers. Using a macro lens is the perfect way to achieve that. I see the garden and flower arrangements in very different ways depending on the lens I use.

When I teach children about photography, I encourage them to look at a subject from multiple angles - to get close, to move back, to climb on a chair and look down and to get on their knees and go beneath. It is amazing how many different photographs one can take of the same subject.

When I was a senior in high school, I attended the summer school for the arts in Buffalo, New York. We were awakened pre-dawn one morning by the instructors to travel down to the millyard. We were dropped off in front of a big brick building and told to get to it. Cameras in hand, the students scurried every which way. At the time, I was throughly uninspired by my surroundings. "What pictures can one take of this dirty old mill?" I thought. When we returned to class, I was given a lesson that I would never forget. Each student had captured something totally different from the person sitting next to him. One student focused on the sunlight seeping between mill buildings. (Actually, I think those photos may have been mine...) Another student focused on his reflection in some old metal remnants he found in the yard. Another studnet focused on the landscape of the buildings. Another focused on the shapes within the building...I think you get the picture.

Everyone has a different vision and each is inspired by different elements of their surroundings. In fact, an artist will generally develop a recognizable style based on her vision of the world. Those who know my work would immediately recognize the above photos as mine. My still lifes are simple, use rich colors, and generally have feminine curves. My macro pictures are soft, yet detailed. I accentuate the backgrounds using a very small f-stop and concentrate on contrasting colors in flat blocks behind the flowers.

So, the next time you are out taking pictures, whether they are pictures of your kids or your flowers, try to think out side of your box. Don't just point and shoot. consider your landscape. Where should you stand to make the subject more interesting? Perhaps even getting on your belly would help. Should you move in close to your subject or far away? Have fun trying different things and soon you too will develop your own style.


Nancy J. Bond said...

Both beautiful shots. :)

The Gardeness said...

I'm loving the macro lens at the moment. Great pics.