August week 1 – close and closer

Old familiar things are often transformed when placed next to their “upgraded” versions.  This was the case with an old cafeteria-styled glass pepper shaker when I saw it shelved with wooden pepper mills at a neighborhood cafe.

Subjects smack in the middle of your image like the bull’s eye of the dart board are supposed to be a “no-no” for good composition.  But sometimes I just love it that way. Know the rules and then break them, especially if it tells a good story or portrays memorable Americana items.

In the ordinary is the extra-ordinary  -  if we only take the time to look.

Paying attention to details can lead to some spectacular compositions.  But little unexpected finds can also be rewarding.  As a child I “caught” many walking sticks, grasshoppers  and praying mantis in the summer and kept them in a jar until my mother yelled “let them go … would you like to live in a jar?”  Only now do I more fully understand the underlying wisdom of what it means to be connected to all living things, even the insects (including the ones that bite).

Sometimes we don’t see the small things right in front of us.  Bugs and buds can easily be overlooked. That’s why I love working with close-up photography.  Photographing outside close-up is challenging because the slightest breeze will move your subject right out of your field of focus.  Since the closer you get the shallower your depth-of-field becomes, so you often need a small (f/16 – f/32) aperture to retain enough depth-of-field to cover the important parts of your subject.

Maybe close up shots remind me of looking into the jars of yester-years remembering those eye to eye experiences with my bug friends. Insects that are doing something, even as simple as an act of feeding, produce engaging images.  For me the eyes are the most important part of such images and if parts of the bug go out of focus that is fine with me.  I also prefer this if it means a nice soft background.  What kind of insect am I?

The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that resembles a prayer position.  Typically green or brown they are well camouflaged on the plants among which they live.  With two large compound eyes and three other simple eyes located between them the Mantids can turn their heads 180 degrees to scan their surroundings.

Now that’s a trick I would love to be able to do.  In the mean time I will simply slow down and smell the roses and be bitten by the insects and bugs around them!

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