Up Close, Out There

Not sure why, but lately I am beginning to notice things up close.  Granted that my eyesight is not what it used to be and that any level of magnification in the world out there is a welcomed event.  The thing is that after spending most of my days taking photos of people and places at a distance, getting close is beginning to appeal to me.  Normally I carry with me a variety of lenses designed primarily for scenic and portrait photography.  This is no accident, as this is where my primary interest always seem to take me: to the macro world out there.  However, like many other photographers who revisit their long-forgotten photographs from time to time, I came across the photos above recently and decided to take a second look at them.   After doing a little cropping just for fun I began to appreciate more and more why I had taken these pictures in the first place.  I’ve read many articles from professional photographers saying that the crop tool was their favorite tool in their photographic arsenal, and lately  I’m beginning to realize why they feel that way.  This ability to remove unwanted objects from photographs is being put on steroids by the newly released Adobe Photoshop CS5 content aware fill capabilities.  For those who lean more to the purist side of the photographic spectrum, I’m sure cropping may not be as big of a sin as rendering some object invisible within the photo.  Personally, I think there’s room in the world for both of these approaches, so I’ll leave that fight for someone else to fight.

In the end, what really matters is the visual impact of our photographs.  In our attempt to record the larger events and places we come across, it is sometimes easy to forget that amongst all those great scenes out there lies a world of small objects possessing stories all onto themselves.  This up-close photographic scenes seem to demand more of our attention and make it harder for the average person to just give a passing glance to a photograph.  In some strange sense, they make us linger over them, scrutinizing shapes, colors, and structures that make us feel as if we are seeing the whole thing for the first time.  They also create a strange sense of exclusion by not allowing us to look at anything else, forcing us to look through some reality frame where nothing exists outside of that photo.  This is definitely one dimension of photography that I will be visiting more often in the future.

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