Another world, at arm's length

Most of us dream of going places, seeing things we didn';t see before. It';s easy to forget that what you see depends not only on what location you are in, but also what you are looking for. Are you looking, or are you seeing? Sometimes, a shift of perspective is all that is needed to see entirely new things. The one photographic tool that I have that have given me most in this sense, is my macro lens. It was bought second-hand, fairly cheaply in a photo store in Poitiers, France, nearly two decades ago. It';s Canons first generation of the EF 100mm f/2.8.

It is so outdated that it seems to have slipped out of the history in some ways. For instance, Adobe Lightroom has correction data (for distortion and vignetting) for pretty much every lens there is. But not this one. That';s how outdated it is. The autofocus mechanism is, well, bad. It may even be that it is a bit faulty, on the rare occasions that I use it, if it hunts for focus and reaches the outer limit, it sounds like it is about to fall apart. But optically, I have no complaints about it.

So, I live in a small house, with a small garden. During spring and summer, when I am doing some work in the garden, it happens every so often that I just keep the camera with the macro on it nearby. And it happens every so often that the gardening work is interrupted for a while, for a little photo session with something that has caught my attention. Sometimes I do have macro sessions in the garden without the disguise of gardening work as well.

While the things that I find in the garden might not be very exotic per se, the macro perspective nearly always bring new light to common things. It can be ants collecting honeydew from aphids. It can be a ladybug, climbing in the grass. It can be a common daisy standing in the lawn. It can be a water drop on a leaf. The subject itself does not make all of the image.

The perspective that is selected through the viewfinder, the background, the depth of field. All those things work together, and can turn a very ordinary subject into an interesting or beautiful image.