Friday, April 20, 2012

Thinking Small

Sometimes I think too big when it comes to taking pictures. I want to take in the "big picture", sorry for the pun. It's axiomatic that "you can't see the forest for the trees." But what happens when the little things are interesting or important? What do you do when you don't want to be bothered with the forest?

Get in close! Go macro! Think small.

When I took this picture I was wandering around the Erie Canal Path in Fairport, NY. It was early spring and I was waiting for Kim to get her hair styled. It was still too early in the season for flowers or new leaves in the trees and too early in the day for there to be a lot of interesting people on the path to watch. So I started looking around for interesting things to shoot. I got bored with the usual subjects in the area; a few ducks, interesting reflections of buildings in the canal. So I started looking in a different direction: down.

Micro-forest. iPhone f/2.4, 1/557 sec at ISO 64
Along this part of the path there are planters and walls made up of posts and pilings and for about half the day some areas get almost no sunshine because of the buildings right along the canal and some large trees. The wood stays damp for most of that time and so little colonies of mosses grow wherever they can gain a foothold. I saw this little clump of different mosses on top of one of the posts - and that would have been interesting enough - but the post had been weathered into little concentric ridges and the moss had used the bits of dust, dirt and other detritus to attach themselves to the post. All-in-all it looked like a miniature forest had sprouted on a lilliputian mountain range.

I bent down and - with my iPhone - composed for the dappled background, maximum contrast in the ridges on the post, and some back-lighting through the tiny leaves. The iPhone camera has a wide aperture (f/2.4) and I selectively focused (I use the SmugMug "Camera!" app instead of the app that comes preloaded) on an interesting clump of moss and snapped the shot. I bumped up contrast and sharpened a bit in Photoshop Elements, but that's about it.

There's an interesting sense of scale to this picture, I think. If you look casually this could be a woodland scene with large bushes and young trees, but peer closely and suddenly the scale inverts and you are immersed in a miniature landscape all arranged on the top of a fence post.

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