Friday, September 7, 2012

Keep those eyes open

I've often suggested that we can see interesting things almost anywhere, anytime, if we practice looking with "fresh eyes." A corollary notion is that when you set out to photograph something in particular, it's a good idea to be open to other treatments than the one you planned, and even to other subjects that you were not looking for. As an example, in the middle of one of the child portrait sessions that I did recently, we came upon a colorful spider. I couldn't take the time to mount a macro lens (in fact, I didn't have one in my bag that day). Checking the exif info for the sequence of photos, I see that I only interrupted the stream of shots of the toddler subject for about 20 seconds to get this photo of the spider. I was doing everything with a fixed focal length, a fast 50 mm. It was not possible to get a frame filling, detailed shot of the arachnid, but I like this environmental composition. Here it is, with its web visibly spanning the leaves, an ordinary picket fence in the background, and look at the characteristic zigzag pattern through the center of the web! I thought it was well worth shooting.

During the same shoot, in the same area, I spotted this flower separated from the plants around it. Again, although the "normal" lens wouldn't give the kind of high impact close up that a macro would, it made a nice atmosphere and did a good job of blurring the background into vaguely suggestive shapes, thanks to an f/1.2 aperture.

Both of these images are compositionally a little unusual for me. I almost never place the main subject right in the middle of the frame, but...sometimes I think it works. Now here's a serendipitous visitor that I snagged in the same shoot, actually about a minute and a half before spotting the spider:

Yet again, I like having the tools to get up close and personal with bugs, but sometimes a broader view is enjoyable. And in spite of what you might imagine, my overall focus was on the child, and we got many, many photos that I'm sure will not only be enjoyed by her parents, but also by her, when she is a bit older.


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