Macro photography is often associated with beautiful flower photos, but during a past trip to Yosemite National Park I decided to use my macro lens to document the impact of a controlled fire that was set on the valley floor. Rather than take a standard wide view of a fire scared landscape I decided to use a macro lens to capture a more intimate landscape of shape and texture. The jigsaw puzzle like bark of the Ponderosa Pine has always fascinated me and taking a closer look before and after made for an interesting subject.
The bark of the Ponderosa Pine from afar looks as though its covered in large scales, but as you get closer the large scales actually reveal their true structure. Layers upon layers of puzzle like pieces create the thick protective layer and structure to the trunk of the tree.
Taking a closer look at the burnt bark of trees in the vicinity, loose layers of bark are gone leaving only a tightly packed layers of bark. The puzzle like pieces of the bark retain their loose shape, but glisten like shiny charcoal.
I’d venture to say that most people wouldn’t think of burnt bark as having any quality of beauty, but as a macro subject I thought it did. Granted I much prefer seeing a forest in a lush state rather than burnt, identifying burnt bark as a photographic subject is a lesson in itself.
When photographing nature subjects, or any other really, its important to check preconceived notions of beauty at the door. Observing the world as though you’ve never seen it before has a lot of merit. Mind you I will admit it bugs my wife when we go on walks… I’m always observing and pointing out minutia of the environment that most normal people would never have taken a second look at.
A while back Chase Jarvis posed the question, “When was the last time you shot something for the first time?” and I’d counter, “When is the last time you photographed something as though it were your first time?” Getting into the mode of rediscovery has proven to be as invaluable to me as immersing myself into a new environment to photograph. Try it. It might just light a creative fire for you.
[tags]Photography, Macro, Fire, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park[/tags]