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Macro University – Philosophically Speaking, What is Macro

This is the second in our three part series “What is Macro”.

Philosophically macro is a perspective through which one looks at the world around them, of trying to view the small details making up the larger world.  We see the big stuff everywhere we go, the bridge that is a part of our daily commute or the tree standing by the house.  But how often do we go and examine the bolts holding the bridge together or the bark on the tree.  Look a little closer and see that the bark has a community of smaller organisms living there.

When you look at the world from the perspective of a macroist you are searching for the small things that normally go unnoticed.  You are searching for greater detail in the subjects you work with.  The things missed when just giving a glance as we walk by, in the hustle to get through the day.

Coffee Beans.  Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 100mm Macro IS.

Coffee Beans. Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 100mm Macro IS.

This is a skill you can develop and hone over time.  Challenge yourself to think about the world differently and thus your craft as well.   Think of ways to come at subjects with macro as your first intention.  Here are some tips to help you along the way.

The first task is to develop a new sense of curiosity about your surroundings.  Adopt the idea of viewing the world like a toddler.  When you are eating take a close look at your food.  What does the crown of broccoli or the surface texture of a coffee bean really look like?  There is only one way to find out, close and constant observation.

Moss and Likins living on the bark of a tree.  Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 65mm MP-E.

Moss and lichens living on the bark of a tree.  Taken with Canon 7D and Canon 65mm MP-E.

Next take some time to be still and observe.  A few places in this article I have mentioned the commotion and busyness of our lives.  When was the last time you went somewhere and watched all that is going on around you?  Do this a couple of times without a camera, take it all in and look deeper into the details of your surroundings.  Also to this concept pick a single object and thoroughly examine it.

Finally think about how to tell the story of your subject.  The magic of image making is in telling a story whether with stills or motion.  When exploring the details of the world try thinking of it in terms of the stories they convey.  Let the story lead to new places to look and explore.

Why do you create the images you do?  Is macro a method through which you view or just a tool in your toolbox?  There are many people who just use macro to fill specific objectives in their work and there is nothing wrong with that.  Then there are those who see the world in macro terms and are looking for a medium to convey their vision.  I hope all try to be more of the second; it will make you that much better at the first.

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