Macro Photography: Looking at the Little Things

Well, it’s near the end of the semester and Photography Club had its last meeting. I have learned so much more about Photography than I ever would have on my own, and I thought I would conclude my posts with Macro Photography. Macro photography is taking a photo of something that is or can seem to be small and the photograph makes the subject look larger than it actually is. There are some very interesting photos on Pinterest of little insects, like a lady bug on a flower petal. The image of the lady bug looks much larger and you can see a lot more details of the lady bug and of the flower. I love being able to notice all of the little things in life, and making them seem larger and more significant even if it is for just one instant.


It’s also great to see something in a situation that you wouldn’t normally see. There are a few photos on Pinterest of pencils and flowers being emerged in soda water.

 

I love that photography can grasp reality, to some extent, and that it can take notice to things that aren’t normally seen on a daily basis. Normally, you don’t drop things in water, but taking these photos really shows how interesting and limitless photography can be. Photography doesn’t need to have this magnificent and awe inspiring subject matter to take a picture. You can take a picture of something as simple and mundane as a pencil and produce a picture that is very worth taking the time to notice. I never would have thought to look at a flower under water. Photography has the ability to make people notice those small and seemingly unremarkable things in life. It also gets people to see things in life in a different way, and being involved with photography club has really allowed me to expand my own interpretation or perspective of the things around me.

 
Joining Photography Club made me notice a lot of different aspects of photography that I never realized or understood. I’ve enjoyed gaining an understanding of how to use the most basic functions of a camera, and then expand from that to show people and things in a more unexpected way. I still get a little nervous by how powerful photography can be. Photoshop and other similar tools allow you to completely manipulate a photograph into something entirely different. Sometimes manipulating a photograph gives people the wrong impression or perception of what reality is, and it can be really hurtful and demeaning to claim something to be realistic when it is completely false. There is always a gray area in what is considered to be the best representation of reality, but the bottom line is that Photography can give you a way to see the things around you differently.

The World in a Different Light

The Photography club president has taken some photos using an infrared technique. Infrared is a type of light, a color almost like red but the human eye can’t see it. Infrared photography requires a filter that blocks everything out except the infrared light, like the light from the sun, and cameras aren’t designed to capture infrared light so you have to do long exposures with the camera on the tripod to effectively photograph with infrared lighting. Hopefully, next week the club will be able to try infrared photography and I will post the pictures in my blog post and on the Photography’s Flickr page. Until I have my own photos to show, I will show the club president’s photos and a few photos found on Pinterest. I have also posted helpful tips for how to create infrared photographs on my “Photography Tips and Tricks” page.

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Photo taken by Tom Jordan at Great Falls, MD.

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Photo taken by Tom Jordan at Brookside Gardens, MD.

Infrared is a really interesting technique. It is different than some of the other techniques, like Photoshop, that allow you to deliberately and carefully manipulate the photograph. Photoshop allows you to change the picture after it has already been taken, and you can completely change the perception of the photograph if you choose to. Infrared is a little different because you can completely change the perception of reality, but you do not really have control over changing what the photograph looks like after you take the photo. You are really presented with this alternate reality photograph, rather than changing and altering the photograph yourself through a computer program.

I really enjoy using Photoshop because it allows you to make a photograph look more exactly the way you want it to. While infrared, creates this suspense of not knowing what the photo will exactly look like until the photo is actually taken. There are many different ways to make a photograph look infrared, so to some extent you can predict what the photo will look like after you experiment with the different techniques, but there is still this specialty in the way that you can really manipulate reality by just taking a photograph with a different lens. Photographs always manipulate reality because they are capturing one instant in time, and based on one person’s perspective of reality. However, infrared can give a photographer more control over what they want reality to look like. Infrared, to me, looks like a cool sci-fy movie or this alternate reality on a different planet, and I think it’s great that reality can be changed so much. We go through life, with mostly just our own perspective in life. One way to change or enlighten our own perspectives is by talking to people with different perspectives, and infrared is one way to really change someone’s current perspective of photography or even make yourself view reality in a different way.

Pictures on a Gray Day

After talking about street photography with the photography club, we decided to actually take some photographs on the streets of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Now, Huntingdon is a very small and rural town, so street photography can look a lot different than Vivian Maier’s photographs in Chicago. Instead of focusing on the people you see on the sidewalks, we focused more on the buildings, abandoned warehouse and cars, and rusting fences.

When you think of taking a photo, sometimes you focus on the scene and wonder how it will appeal to people. Is this picture of an attractive person or pretty scenery that will make people react in a positive way? But as we walked through the town, nothing was terribly appealing. Of course, we chose a day that was really cold and a bit rainy, and on a dreary day our photos were not these beautiful and embracing photos. Instead, the photos were gray and just seemed to represent more of the day to day living. Most pictures that are taken are of special moments and times of the day that show something really beautiful or appealing. However, our photos were of abandoned buildings and factories where everything is rundown and exempt of life. I liked that we didn’t look for this great shot that would make somebody feel pleased and happy to look at. We just took photos of things that were there, and tried to capture things by just the way they looked. The way Vivian Maier took photos of seeming random people and things, made the process of taking photos seem more inspiring because you didn’t have to worry about how something looked and how people would respond. It seemed to be that you were free to just take photos of what you saw, and how it made you feel rather than how it would make other people fee.

Some of us also used film cameras, so unfortunately I cannot post the photos on my blog. Using a film camera, and not seeing the photos you’ve taken immediately, like you do with a digital camera, makes you focus on what you’re taking a photo of and not what the photo looks like. You can’t see how your photos look until after they’re developed, so there is more time to focus on the subject matter for what it is, think through everything about the photograph, and savor the moment that much more.

Street Photography

When I typed in photography on Pinterest, one of the sites that was shown was titled Street Photography. Many of the photos were in black and white and were of people living on the street, different buildings, and the reflections of things in puddles of water along the sidewalk. There is something very raw yet distilled in street photography. The content isn’t posed and doesn’t seem to be focusing on the overall layout of the picture. The photo isn’t trying to fill the entire picture with a spectacular image, or make the picture seem to represent something that isn’t there.

Street photography seems to just try and capture what they see when they see it. There is a great documentary about a woman named Vivian Maier, who not many people knew, but she was a very creative photographer. She just took photographs as she walked the streets, but never really showed her photographs to anyone. Check out this trailer for the documentary…

Today photography can be anything that we want it to be really. We can use Photoshop to recreate places we have never been or really change the way something looks. Change the roofs of houses to look green instead of brown, there are so many things that people can change in a photograph. Although, just by taking a photograph the scene can look different than the way we see it through our naked eye. So photography does not always necessarily capture the way something actually looks, but the way Vivian Maier took photos it didn’t seem as she was trying to manipulate the viewer of the photo to see something in a different way. Just taking photographs as you walk around, can allow people to see things that they may never have seen. Living a in a small town in Pennsylvania, I may never experience the streets in a big city, so I am really grateful that someone took photos of the mundane daily lives of others.

It’s great that someone thought it was worth enough to take photos of the common lifestyles of people. Some people only take photos when they see something spectacular in their eyes, but Vivian just took photos of what she saw during her daily walks. It’s important not to forget that capturing the lives of others, and what we see in a day can be worth sharing with others. We don’t always need to see some ravishing sunset, or see something that takes our breath away. Seeing the grime and maybe someone’s unhappy or unfortunate lifestyle is still important and worth the time to take notice and appreciate.

 

Making the Details Matter

Two weeks ago the Photography club went out and did night photography, and it gave me a new perspective about what we actually see and what we don’t see. Last week the club discussed doing more night photography, but specifically star trails.

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Photograph taken by Tom Jordan along the cliffs at the Juniata river Huntingdon, PA.

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Photograph taken by Tom Jordan at the observatory at Juniata College Huntingdon, PA.

 

Star trails use a long exposure to capture the stars moving across the sky as the earth spins. I have never really acknowledged the idea of photographing the night sky because I thought it might be too difficult to capture the dark immensity, and you generally need the moon and clouds to be absent from the sky to showcase all the stars. However, as the president of the club discussed what kind of star trails he had done and some work of others I saw that photographing the night sky is not necessarily about capturing the immensity of the sky or what we can see, it’s about magnifying the small things to create something surreal.

Most of the time I don’t even really think about looking up at the sky when it’s dark. I know the stars will be there, and even on really foggy nights when you can’t see the stars you know they are there. I think the night can be really underappreciated because we take for granted the things that we know are there and we don’t think we need to appreciate them every day. For me, talking about how to photograph the stars in a star trail photograph, made me really appreciate the stars and it was cool to see a photograph where the stars were the main focus and not just the sky in the background. While the stars are the main focus in a star trail, the way the stars are manipulated gives the viewer a sense of reconstructed reality or fantasy. Night photography and star trails are a great way to shed some light on areas that are not always as noticeable and reveal those small things in a grander scale.

What You Don’t See

When you take a photo of something or someone you usually want the photograph to actually showcase what you see. You want to be able to see all the features of that beautiful mountain or all of the colors on that hand-knitted scarf. Whenever I think of taking a photo, I always thought of that photograph representing what I see, but when I did night photography with the Photography club some of the photos showed what I didn’t really see before.

When you only have the stars, street lights, and maybe a flashlight as your source of light, you don’t see all those specific and tiny details that you notice during the day. Walking down the street and hearing the leaves crunch under my feet I didn’t stop to think I should take a photo of them. Even though I knew that they are these pretty yellow and red colors, I couldn’t see them, and I knew the camera wouldn’t capture the colors the way I wanted, so I didn’t even attempt to photograph them. When I take photos, my surroundings really limit and reflect what I can actually take a photo of. Photographing at night definitely restricts your sense of sight, so why take photos if you can’t even really see what you’re looking at?

You may not be able to see the things or notice those pretty colors in a darker setting, but there are so many things that go unnoticed when you’ve got the bright sun in the sky. Looking up at a utility light I could now see the intricate and tiny designs of this massive spider web.

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(Photo taken by the AGY factory Huntingdon, PA)

The light from the street light reflected just perfectly off the spider web and cast deep shadows behind it, so now one could easily become frightened or really intrigued by the sight of the web. It was amazing to experience a different perspective just by walking outside with only scattered lights as your guide. Photography allowed me the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the things that I generally just walk right by without even really seeing. Your setting and your overall surroundings can really inhibit a special feature that you’re used to seeing, but it can also expand and enlighten your current perspective.

What to do with Photos…

Since attending the wedding, I have been thinking about what the couple and family will do with the photos after they purchase them from the photographer. Will they put all the photos in a wedding album, and only display some of them in picture frames to hang on a wall, or will they upload the photos to Facebook or another social media site?

 

A lot of people are engaged in some form of social media sites that allow you to upload profile pictures and as many photos as you want. For me, I do not live as near to my family as I would like to, so I greatly appreciate the social media sites such as Facebook. I can now see moments in their lives that I wouldn’t normally get to see. It is especially hard to not be there to see my nephews start to walk and talk, but because of these social media sites my family constantly posts pictures and videos of them so I can feel just a little bit more involved in their lives. (Although my mom also prints out the Facebook photos and then puts them in photo albums and frames throughout the house.) Since seeing this couple start their journey and becoming a family, I wondered how they will use their wedding pictures.

 

After looking at some amazing and unconventional photo albums on Pinterest, I realized there are so many other ways to display and share photos. Check out some of these different ways people display their photos, on my Photography Trips and Tricks page. After looking at these interesting photo displays, I realized it is important for me just to share your life and your photos with other people. It doesn’t matter if you put all your photos in a photo album, or make a giant collage and hang it on the wall, or carry photos around in your wallet, just as long as you do it in a way that allows you to share these very significant, and not so significant, moments with your family, new friends, and anybody else you want.