The Secret World of Macro Photography

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: jul 2009; revised: mar 2018; readers past month: 899

equip: canon 400D; canon ef-s 60mm f/2.8 macro
exp: aperture: f/8; shutter: 1/125; iso: 400

This photograph was taken at Audubon Park in New Orleans with a Canon 400D camera using a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens. The shutter was open for 1/125 of a second; the aperture was at f/5.6; the ISO sensitivity was set to 400. More importantly, it shows a very small seed that was snagged on a fine strand from a spider — not a web, but a strand from what seems to have been when a spider lowered itself from one plant to another. The most minor of obstacles, a minature collision in nature. This photo shows the delicateness and durability of the strand, as well as the lightness of the floating seed — thwarted in its mission to drift to a new location to plant itself.

When I was only three years old, my father died. I didn’t quite comprehend what that meant. However, I did feel the loss of my father. When I was seven years old my mother remarried. My step-father was stern and not prone to being sensitive of my feelings. He lived in Massachusetts, so we moved from New Orleans to the city of Peabody, north of Boston. Not haven’t adapted fully to the loss of my father, I was now in a foreign land amongst strange people including a step-father who tried to control and dominate me too much. As a result, I enjoyed hiding in small spaces like the back of my closet. Related to this, I particular liked very small things such as bryophytes, extremely small plants. Their very nature makes them small and strange to other plant life. To me they seemed to be plants from a mystical world, an imaginary world of the small and unseen persons. Here was the domain in which I longed to cower in and hide from the looming world of grown-ups.

Still today I am fond of bryophytes. When I see them growing on a wall, at the base of a tree or in other out of the way places I cannot resist stopping and gazing at them. I still dream of an alternate reality in which I cannot be found by those who hurt me, a peaceful reality of micro-plants. Along those lines, I enjoy macro photography.

I would like to do more of macro photography, but life always seems to distract me or prevent me from doing it. Now I don’t have a macro lens: I used to have a macro lens, a Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM. However, when I sold my Canon EOS 40D to buy a Canon 5D Mark II, I sold the macro lens, too. I sold my Canon EF-S lenses because they are made for small sensor cameras and the Canon 5D Mark II is has a full-size image sensor. I intend to get a new macro lens, but I’m trying to only buy Canon’s L series lenses, their best lenses. So I want to buy the Canon EF 180mm f3.5L Macro USM. However, that lists for about $2,100. I can get it on Amazon and from other big camera stores in the U.S. for about $1,350, but it’s still more than I can afford to spend at the moment.

Despite the financial considerations of purchasing a good macro lens, I try to remind myself that I need the imaginary escape that I feel with macro photography. I need the calmness of it. I put some of the macro shots I’ve taken on my large screen television as part of its screen-saver so that I can stare at them. They soothe me; they bring me moments of tranquility, even if only for a moment. I need moments like that each day, my moments of Zen. I need a macro lens to generate those moments.