I am not exactly sure what was my first macro or close-up subject as a
photographer. I know I used a Canon 35mm camera and a set of extension
tubes. I was so enamored by what I saw, that I began using my medium
format Mamiya and Pentax cameras with a bellows or tubes as well. It
was like I had discovered an alternate universe that I did not know
A small world, that was larger (in scope) than the large world.
To me, the easiest route to photographic art is via the macro lens.
Darell Gulin created this gorgeous, artistic rendition of a Malachite
butterfly on a flower.
Sometimes we, or should I say I, can get so wrapped up in the art of
photography, that we forget that there is a utilitarian purpose to be
served as well. They can illustrate stories.
Nature photography, especially macro photography, can serve that
purpose. It serves two masters, so to speak.
This image of a group of Milkweed bugs is among my favorites
concerning my own close-up work. It tells the story of a group of
individuals of which some are immature and some mature. This
particular image has been published by others. It tells a story and
informs us, but has a small touch of art as well.
The story with this next shot is that little critters, sometimes eat
or consume each other. It also says that ferocity is not measured in
size, as this little spider consumes this larger beetle.
There is nothing wrong with images that illustrate what something
looks like. I was quite happy to get this picture of a beautiful Luna
Moth as it rested on the side of a state park admission building.
Of course the Luna Moth is art in and of itself. This photo was an
improvement over one I had made years ago on the back of a restroom
door in North Carolina.
There is nothing quite like finding a little critter, and shooting so
close that you concentrate on only one section of its body.
Some people say that the eyes are the window to the soul. Dragonflies
are sort of “all eyes”. At least, they proportionally have among the
biggest eyes in the natural world.
Talk about an alternate universe.
Flowers are certainly artistic in their very nature. I like but do not
love this image of a Yellow Flag Iris which I made many years ago on
the edge of a Illinois roadside marsh. Just a wee bit of a cleaner
background would have helped push this one over the “artistic edge”
for me, but you do the best you can and live with what you bring home.
A ragged but artsy looking blossom with dew covered petals, some
artistic top/back light, and a shadowy background. Now that’s what I’m
Let’s move on to the a larger portion of the universe. We can get off
our hands and knees now.
The male Northern Pintail duck, is to say the least not a very
colorful creature in comparison to so many other male ducks. What they
lack in color, that achieve in natural elegance.
I caught this pair of “buddies” years ago in Horicon Marsh NWR in
Wisconsin. There were females nearby so I assume they were headed out
to “scope out the ladies” so to speak.
There are many critters I have photographed, that I remember better
than others. There were certainly some Snowy Owls and some Red Foxes.
I often photographed those animals for weeks. Over and over again.
There is no single wild animal I remember better or more fondly, than
this immature Black-crowned Night Heron. I spent maybe 45 minutes with
it on a back road of a marsh. It was even more curious of me than I
was of it. If it had a camera and could use it, I would say it might
be looking at photos of me right now, thinking the same things I am.
At several points it walked directly up to the window of my car. I
mean within inches of my car, and only a foot or so from me. Hopefully
it lost its fascination with cars and people.
Every time I view my images of this young bird, I wonder what kind of
a life it had. A perfect one I hope.
Landscapes as a category of outdoor photography, contain as big of a
variety of imagery, than any other category.
I rarely made autumn landscapes that contained the “hand of man” but I
was an opportunist at best, and anything that made a good picture was
a welcome addition to my portfolio.
This fall scene contains an old wrought iron fence that surrounds a
city cemetery. It’s bright yet serene as are many if not most autumn
landscapes. It is in a sense, two universes colliding.
It might have been created at a cemetery but it makes me happy when I view it.
We set out to do a job when we leave the house with our cameras. We
may have ideas when we leave, but we take what is given to us.
Knowing me, this prairie tree was probably photographed at sunrise,
but let’s imagine it was sunset (it might have been), and use it as a
finishing point for today’s article.
There is only one universe, but oh my, there is so much for us as
photographers to see, really see, and to do.
Keep clicking those shutters,