It seems as though photographers get so hung up on traveling in search of exotic, or inspiring, locations that they forget about what is right out their own door.
I must admit that unless I have decided to take pictures of a colourful plant, or quickly capture a photo of a feral cat looking for handouts, or a deer that has hopped the fence with hungry designs on the spring buds growing in my wife’s garden, I rarely wander our yard with my camera in hand. The items we pass by every day become so familiar and commonplace that we pay little attention to them.
Last Sunday I wondered if the ten lilac bushes I planted late last fall made it through the winter. So I walked along the fence to check for spring growth and sure enough all of the new shrubs made it and I later told my wife that all the lilacs she had shipped all the way from Quebec are doing just fine. Of course with the unusually warm winter we had here in British Columbia one would expect no less.
As I walked around I spied a pile of old chain rusting on a log and realized I might be missing an opportunity for a few pictures if I didn’t get my camera. I admit I am not the most fastidious person when it comes to keeping tidy the two acres of land we live on, and because bits of things interest me I am forever picking up stuff that is apt to spend lots of time resting wherever I place them when I got home. That chain has only been sitting there for a year or two, but there might come a time when I will need that well-rusted length of chain.
So I got out my camera and mounted my wife’s treasured 70-180mm macro, grabbed my flash, and headed out. The Nikon AF 70-180mm is unique. It is the only true macro zoom lens around which allows precise framing without having to change working distance and refocus. And so, yes, that lens is special to Linda.
This photo hunt was to look for those bits and pieces similar to the chain and that’s why I chose that macro lens, so I could get in close or zero in on just a part of what I wanted to photograph.
One of my favourite photographers, Robert Mapplethorpe wrote, “With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.”
Those words were perfect for my walk through my spring-like yard. I’d find an object or feature, focus close with the macro lens, zoom in to crop tight, release the shutter a couple times and move on.
Although I can use my flash wireless off-camera, this time I chose to connect it to the camera with a dedicated TTL cord. I decided it would be easier to hold the flash and aim the light from different angles than it would be if I had to keep moving and adjusting a stand. Instead of fussing with a flash mounted on a stand all I did was put the flash in my pocket till I needed it to photograph flaking paint, rust, moss-covered wood and all sorts of things that have found a home in our yard.
I am of the opinion that those photographers that live in a well-kept, tidy yard are missing out on such an opportunity. Just think of how much fun I had on my safari discovering great things of which to take pictures.
Of course there is the possibility that my wife will come up with an altogether different kind of safari once she sees my pictures, one that will be a lot less fun for me.