Saturday, October 24, 2009


This is what I love about photography: surprise. We're getting ready to go into Newport to run our usual Thursday errands, but first, I see there's dew all over everything in the back yard. Hmmmm . . . Maybe something good to shoot? I grab a camera with the lens that's on it — an 18-55mm — and begin looking and shooting, sort of "warming up." Nothing's happening. And that's when I see the spider web. Adrenaline rush! But this lens won't let me move in close enough. (The background is really busy and I need to come in super close so that it will blur out.)

Back in the house. I grab my 50mm lens and a 35mm extension tube. Why? The macro lens is on another camera on another tripod and damn it! I'm in a hurry! I choose the 50mm lens because it opens way up to f/1.8. The fat extension tube will give me magnification. How much? Don't know. Don't care. Gotta move fast.

Back outside. Web's still there. But the dew drops are evaporating quickly. It's becoming breezy. I move in as closely as I can without becoming a feast for some lucky spider. The sun's rising fast, light/shadow/light/shadow through the trees in the distance.

It's difficult to focus on something using a combination of an aperture of f/1.8 (super wide open, very shallow depth of field) and using an extension tube. Especially hand-held. And these photos reflect that. They're not all that great. But you know what I love? Look at how WEIRD the spiderweb looks! Isn't that incredible? I love the distortion shallow depth of field gave me.

And this is for Linda, who was frustrated with her f/1.4 lens/25mm extension tube combo yesterday. Often the key is to work WITH the unique characteristics of your lens/extension tube combo, not try to force it. The beauty of your lens is shallow DOF. Move in close on just one little focal point and let everything else go absolutely wacko around it! Not every photo you take will be a winner. So what? The beauty of digital is that we can play with this stuff, JUST TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

As a result of shooting this spiderweb, I had the joy of the bizarreness, the strangeness, the uniqueness of seeing something completely differently. Yes, there's lens flare. Yes, there's green stuff on the right from the trees. And I'm showing these pictures even though they're definitely not my best because THIS is what I love about photography. The joy of seeing. The fun of experimenting. The amazement at what we see when we just let go, when we don't feel compelled to be perfect.

Sometimes we shoot simply for the joy of it. ©Carol Leigh


gottago said...

What a surprise this morning to see your way cool photos.

You reminded me about the fun I have seeing, but seeing most often once I'm actually looking through the lens. That excitement is what keeps me interested in photography. The things I find looking through the viewfinder are the payoff. Thanks for the attitude adjustment. Your words were just what I needed.

This morning post offered me another awareness....the excitement you wrote about your morning shoot is motivating to me as a reader. Because I'm new to blogging, while in the learning process, I tend to want to let the reader know I don't like the posted end product, rather than focus on relating the exciting feelings experienced during the process.

Running back inside to view uploaded photos generates a level of interest and excitement somewhat like I used to get pulling the handle on a slot machine. I do like adrenaline rushes.

Thanks Carol.

Diane Miller said...

These are awesome! I'm reminded of the time whomever it was who played Dick Tracy in the movie a few years ago was on a show with Arsenio Hall (I think I have it straight). Arsenio asked to try on Dick Tracy's yellow blazer. Then he said something like, "How come when you wear this you look so cool and when I put it on I look like a pimp?" That's how I feel about when I try super-shallow depth-of-field compared to when you do!

Carol Leigh said...

Diane . . . Ha! The difference is probably what we CHOOSE to show. I photographed some lollipops the other day. Will anyone EVER see those shots? Nope. Or the crappy white ribbon pictures I shot yesterday? Or the miserable tomato pictures from last week? No way.

I loved your analogy -- made me laugh. -- Carol Leigh