photography from the ground up

The World At Your Feet

There was a time not too long ago when ninety-five percent of my photography was macro/close-up work. I made a conscious change to broader landscapes, and now ninety five percent of my images are landscapes. Go figure! Recently, while doing some research for a photography class I am teaching, I opened a book by John Shaw, one of the premier nature photographers of all time. One of the first things I noticed about John’s work is that he doesn’t just do landscapes, and he doesn’t just do macro/close-ups, he does it all, and he does it extremely well! So, I am now in the process of trying to strike a balance between the two.

Macro/ close-up photography has one big advantage over landscapes: you can do it in your own backyard. There is a world right at your feet. All you have to do is look.

I made this first image early one winter morning on my way to work. I was walking to my truck when I happened to glance down at the ground; there were all these amazing ice forms with some of the gravel showing through. It was just a matter of setting up my tripod and taking the shot.

Winter is a great time for this type of photography. I love the patterns that can be found in ice and snow. The image below was made in a friend’s driveway one winter afternoon. The arrangement of the leaves caught my eye, and again, it was a simple matter to set up the shot. I like the slight depression in the snow around the larger leaf; it adds a little depth to the image.

Sometimes it’s necessary to get down at eye level with your subject in order to find the image you’re looking for. I found this frozen weed stalk in my side yard one morning. The sun hadn’t hit that side yet, so the small plant was still covered with frost. I was kneeling on the frozen, snow covered ground while I framed and composed the shot, but I think it was well worth the effort.

Spring is another great time to find photos at your feet. The world is awakening after it’s long winter sleep, and there’s plenty of new growth which is still fresh, not yet ravaged by the elements or insects.

The above photo was made right next to a road in the Santa Fe National Forest, and the one below in the back yard of some friends. Both were taken with my Nikon 105mm macro lens mounted on a tripod

This last image has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It was made in my yard just after sunrise, again using my macro lens. All of these photographs, except for the second one which is a digital capture, were taken with a Nikon F100, using Fuji Velvia transparency film, and then scanned with a Nikon Coolscan V film scanner.

So, the next time you find yourself looking for subjects to photograph, don’t forget the small world which is as close as a step outside your door.

11 responses

  1. Nice Blog, Keep it up.

    Jared Winn


    March 17, 2011 at 10:45 am

  2. Pictures number 3 and 5 are standouts for me. For #3, the pale colours, the yellow and blue, the composition all really catch my attention. The last one of the flower with the heavy contrast is quite striking. I like the back lighting on the fringes.


    March 17, 2011 at 10:53 am

    • Jim

      Thanks Mike:
      I really enjoy showcasing the magnificence of the natural world in this way. If it elicits a response, I’ve done my job


      March 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

  3. Love the shots especially 1 and 5. I am a mainly macro photographer right now. I have to force myself to look up and the big world around me because I get so caught up in the little things.


    March 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

    • Jim

      I know what you mean, but I’ve found that sometimes looking at the broader view can be just as rewarding.


      March 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

  4. PL Holden

    Great photography! I love the sunflower, it could brighten up anybody’s day.


    March 17, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    • Jim

      Thanks PL. I know it brightened my day when I took the photo. 🙂


      March 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm

  5. Love that first photo. There is something mysterious about the color and formation.


    March 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

    • Jim

      Hi Sheryll:
      The repetitive curves in the ice that seem to be embracing the curve of the pebbles is the visual element that drew me to this particular form. I have others from that morning, but this one is by far my favorite.


      March 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

  6. ragazzadelmondo

    I love the picture with the leaf in the snow. It’s extremely ‘elegant’:-).


    March 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

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