In a world that’s increasingly shouting at us bigger better faster more, it’s more important than ever to remember the small things that bring most pleasure.
When you’re looking big, there’s always something bigger.
There’s no end – whatever you have, there’s always an upgrade.
But when you seek small, it’s so much easier to find beauty and solace.
This is why, as a photographer, my focus is not on epic landscapes or sweeping vistas.
I find all I’m looking for in the tiny details.
The delicious texture of century old gravestones.
The elegant and intricate overlap of rose petals.
The shimmering droplets on a spider’s web at first light.
The hairs that make up the collectively fuzz of a bumblebee’s abdomen – and the tiny veins in its translucent wings.
When you seek small, there is an end, a place to rest, contented.
A place where you’re happy with what you’ve captured, and happy with the camera you used to capture it.
It’s all you need. It’s enough.
How often do you seek small?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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13 thoughts on “Seek Small (It’s All You Need)”
Thoughtful little piece. I’m beginning to find some nice little shots.. But do you find macro offers the same pressure to nail the “epic” macro shot just as much as that amazing landscape?
Btw. What did you do to that Rose? Looks like it’s soaked in blood! Amazing shot
Adam, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, you could argue that if you were seeking ever closer and more detailed macro shots, you could get sucked into a kind of upgrade spiral of the finest macro lenses.
The rose shot was indeed made with a splendid macro lens, the Minolta AF 50/2.8 macro.
I don’t remember the processing, it was during a phase where I was experimenting with LightRoom, shooting RAW then coming up with half a dozen versions of every image. A time I was happy to leave behind!
There’s not actually too much processing of the colours, it was that vivid red in the flesh, a kind of variegated pattern with the white, and freshly soaked after raining.
The bumblebee shot, though it looks even more “macro”, was taken with my Ricoh GX100, which, like its GR Digital siblings, focused down to 0.01m straight out of the box. Like all cameras should!
Lovely shots Dan. I like the double meaning of your post : 1- seek small (macro) and 2- slow down and notice the details. I don’t often shoot macro shots but I do like taking my time and observing, noticing these details that get overlooked so often because of the social pressure that you mentioned.
I just read this wonderful post – https://lenstaoism.blog/2020/02/27/photo-story-light-activated/ , you might find Andrew using similar approach.
Thanks Yuri, appreciate your comments.
In fact I was going for a triple meaning, those two you mention, plus small in terms of the number of cameras we (don’t) need, and their specifications.
I read Andrew’s post after writing mine, the three of us definitely seem to be on the same kind of wavelength!
Triple meaning is even better haha. Cheers
Cheers to that, I posted my comment below before reading this one, like finding like.
Agree, and following your blog with interest – I need to comment on a couple of posts.
Wonderful, I certainly resonate with the message here. One of the reasons I enjoy using a prime 35mm equivalent is that the pictures I am looking for are things that one could see in person without a camera. I like the idea that the beauty I am finding isn’t something that can only be found with a specialized macro lens, a telephoto, telescope, drone or GPS satellite for that matter. Seeing the world from these unique perspectives is certainly enlightening and inspiring, but if we can find beauty anywhere just by being selective about how we look, and allowing ourselves to see what is already around us, I think that is pretty magical. Thanks for sharing!
Yeh, I can see both sides. I know why people use extensive telephoto lenses to look at the night sky or at animals half a mile away, because they can see things they’d never see directly in front of them with their naked eye.
But absolutely yes the message with this post is that beauty is all around if we look close enough and it doesn’t have to be on a grandiose scale. Thanks Andrew.
The idea of looking closer at what’s right in front of oneself or “seeking small” as you put it, which I wholly endorse, is an enjoyable philosophy to revisit. There really is always something at arm’s reach (there’s nothing like a wooly February to pound that idea home, too). When I go out to “see” landscapes in the hopes of capturing the essence of a larger physical environment or setting, I’m still always interested in closer, smaller things that present themselves for a more intimate context (it’s super-rewarding arriving at both). But there’s definitely a lot of enjoyment, a different kind of freedom in focusing exclusively on a smaller, closer context.
I remember at school we went out on the more overgrown parts of the field once with hula hoops, had to drop them down on a random spot, then get down on our knees and count all the different flowers, leaves and bugs we could see just within that hoop. Mind blowing how many varieties there were!
I see the universe in small as epic as the vast landscapes. Maybe because as hard as climbing a mountain is to reach with our fingertips the heart of minuscule things (at least not without destroying them) The rose is fascinating, as made of beating flesh.
Thank you Francis. It’s easier to photograph small things as they’re more immediately available, but then the choice is so vast it can be overwhelming.