Light Remembered: Focusing on the Small Things (2020)

“If you cannot do great things yourself, remember that you may do small things in a great way.”

– Napoleon Hill, The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons (1928)

It was a lucky thing for me – and, perhaps, for all of us in the northern hemisphere – that covid hit near the start of spring. The sudden shift to isolation within our homes might have been a good bit worse if it had happened at the start of winter when the outside environment was at its most inhospitable.

As it turned out, a couple of weeks after I went into quarantine for a suspected case of covid in the last week of February 2020, the cherry blossoms started peeking out in my neighborhood. Then came the plums. Then the hyacinths.

Prunus cerasifera – Cherry Plum

Delighted as I was to see all of these blossoms on my daily walks, I didn’t have a good way of capturing their beautiful details with my existing camera equipment. So, I indulged in my one substantial covid-induced splurge… I bought a Sony G-Series F2.8/90mm Macro lens.

Vinca minor – Lesser Periwinkle

No small expense, but I’ve gotten some milage out of that puppy! I spent the next several months meandering my neighborhood, attempting to capture all of the little blossoms I could. Fortunately for me, I have some neighbors with very green thumbs (unlike myself… I couldn’t keep a cactus alive in a desert).

I am by no means particularly good at capturing macro images. Depth of field is a real challenge for me and framing and composing images with “large” central focuses is not something I have a natural aptitude for. But what fun to have this new world of details open up for me!

Hyacinthoides non-scripta – English Bluebells

There’s not a lot that I look back on fondly during the first year of the covid-era, but developing a new love for small things is an exception.

Muscari armeniacum – Grape Hyacinth

The photos shown here are all very early attempts at macro photography with this new lens taken between March and June of 2020. Since then I’ve been learning a bit more about bokeh and depth of field and other considerations for dealing with small subjects and their surroundings. I’m by no means skilled at this yet, but I hope that in coming years I can add some notable macro photos to the portfolio of images I’m truly proud of.

One last benefit of this indulgence in the beauty of the small things that surround us is that it really did tamp down my more materialistic desires. The start of covid was so hard because it amplified my sense of dissatisfaction with so many things… My home felt smaller, even constricting. My furniture felt worn and uncomfortable. My time felt poorly spent.

Osteospermum ecklonis – ‘Purple Sun’ African Daisy

I know I’m not alone in this experience. Consumer demand shot up during the pandemic for everything from home furnishings, appliances, building materials and property itself. There’s certainly no harm in focusing one’s energy on improving your home, but allowing urgent dissatisfaction to drive one’s choices can be a destructive exercise. I’m very pleased to have found a distraction from all of that, and a way to be delighted by the things that already surround me.

Categories: Light Remembered (Photoblog)Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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