Lately I've been thinking about what it is that makes me love photography so much. Besides it being a wonderful outlet for my creative side (and a welcome distraction from accounting or housework), just what is it that makes me want to grab my camera and go, every day?
The answer came to me this morning as I was doing some macro photography in our backyard. Our Dwarf Columbine was on my list of things I'd like to photograph someday. Today's schedule was full, but when I gazed outside and saw the soft light and lack of wind, I decided bank reconciliations and laundry could wait. I put a 20mm extension tube and 50mm lens on my camera and headed out.
The Columbine is an understated, fragile flower that is easily overlooked or trampled in the wild. The blooms don't last long once the hotter May days arrive. Our plant was purchased at Kings Gap State Park a few years ago and was carefully transplanted just a few weeks ago during a garden overhaul. It was doing very nicely and was poised for having its portrait taken.
Macro photography is harder than it looks. To give some perspective, the flower in this image is about one and a half inches long, and the spider's body is about one-quarter of an inch long. There's little room for error, and it usually involves getting down and dirty to achieve a good point of view. And then there are all those things in the background that need to be "composed out" of the frame. With all of this in mind, I explored the little plant from various angles and took a number of photographs.
And then it happened. Through the viewfinder of my camera I saw a tiny spider jump onto the flower. My heart raced (yeah, these little things are very exciting to photographers), and my brain went into overdrive knowing that I might have only a few seconds to figure out the best way to capture this moment. Words formed in my mind and silently exclaimed, "Did you SEE that?!"
That's what photography is all about to me. Did you see how soft the light was this morning? Did you see that subtle pink bloom that might be around for only a few days? Did you see the spider scale the blossom, leaving a trail of silk behind him? Did you see the white seed resting on the unopened bud? Photography freezes moments in time that can never be duplicated. For both the photographer and the viewer, the "frozen" image compels you to stop and think and feel something.
Whether I'm photographing a majestic landscape, a weathered fisherman, or a fragile flower, my desire is to help you and me really see the world in which we live. It's so easy to miss a lot in our fast-paced, jam-packed lives. I've answered my question for now. The art of photography has helped me to really see my world, and that is what drives my passion every day.