If you can get your hands on a copy of it, I highly recommend reading a now out-of-print novel called The 79 Squares. In libraries, you’d find it shelved in the young adult fiction section. It tells the story of a 14-year-old delinquent and an old man he’s wronged. The penalty for the boy’s crime, determined by the old man, is that the boy must come to the elder’s house to study the garden, one square at a time. We’re talking all 79 squares of it. An unlikely friendship is forged as this punishment transforms into an experience of enlightenment for the troubled teen.
So, what’s all this got to do with photography? Well, just imagine spending a whole hour studying a 2’x2’ square of your yard, your garden, a park, or anywhere else in the natural world. What would it be like to look at each blade of grass? At every tiny insect? Does it sound like torture? It’s actually a form of meditation, a mental getaway, and a great way to find something beautiful to photograph. Sometimes the most awesome things are hard to see if you’re not really looking:
The age-old adage says we should stop and smell the roses. I say we also look at them—from the tiniest vein on a leaf to the smallest thorn on the stem. Slow down. Look closely. See what you (and your camera) have been missing.
Interested in getting even closer? Here are 6 quick tips for shooting macro photography:
- A good sturdy tripod is essential.
- A general rule of thumb is to use a maximum f-stop of f/16.
- Experiment with larger apertures to throw more of the subject out of focus, for artistic effect.
- Choose a simple background so that it doesn’t visually compete with the main subject.
- Use the fastest shutter speed possible and a ring flash or flash units if shooting at a low aperture.