Looking more closely

I’ve never lost my fascination for looking more closely… into the world of the very small. I’m sure it started as a boy when I knelt on the sidewalk to learn the mysteries of the red and the black ants that lived on either side of my childhood home. So, when last summer, Sony introduced their new Zeiss 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens, I began to fantasize about the fun I would have exploring the small world, once again, with such a big boy’s tool. Early this March, I broke down and treated myself to one… for my birthday. I’ve begun to explore with this new toy, opening windows into the intricate and fascinating world inches from my eyeballs.

Last Friday morning. I mounted the new lens on my Sony A7R and headed out to the dew-speckled grasses in the wetlands near my home. I found teasels and other tall plants basking in the rays of the rising sun. Gossamer spider webs connecting the plants glistened in the morning’s low-angled light. Noticing this, I crab-walked along the forest perimeter keeping the glowing webs between my camera and the sun. After a couple of windy days made macro photography impossible, I returned again on Wednesday morning. The photos posted here came from those two days.  A more complete collection is here: Teasels

CALIFORNIA, teasels, webs, wetlands trailCALIFORNIA, dew, morning, teasels, webs, wetlands trail

The teasels expressed a body language reminiscent of human dancers. Webs draped on the teasel heads and shoulders looked like lacy veils. Sometimes I imagined a neural network connecting one teasel to another or out to the vast forest around them. I enjoyed the feeling of timelessness that comes when looking closely… deeply into the miraculous design of the very small world. My new lens has opened up new ways of seeing what has always been there, but oh so easily missed.

CALIFORNIA, dew, morning, teasels, webs, wetlands trailCALIFORNIA, dew, morning, teasels, webs, wetlands trail

On the second day of photography, instead of wandering around the teasel forest impatiently, I found one group of three teasel heads that provided over an hour of fascinating compositional exploration. I remembered to do what I often teach, but easily forget: Look and then look deeper, closer. Stay still for as long as it takes until you see what else is there.


CALIFORNIA, teasels, webs, wetlands trail


8 comments on “Looking more closely

    • John, Out here in Joshua Tree this week photographing the desert’s versions of teasels. Thanks for checking in!

  1. Slowing down and paying close attention to detail is not something we do well as a society. What beauty lies so close if we will only stop, look, and listen!

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