By Ali Lomshek
Seeing “Macro” in a Time of Quarantine
I was gifted a macro lens for Christmas. I’d been pining for a way, through imagery, to get even closer to some of (in my opinion) the most interesting photography subjects. These subjects are not necessarily people (although I love photographing people!), but things-small things! Often, they are living and breathing. They are full of relatively minute and yet miraculous details, such as veins running through a leaf, a tiny droplet of water. Specks of glitter on a Christmas ornament, the intricate folds of a flower, my son’s seemingly mile-long eyelashes. If you look closely, the list is infinite.
In macro photography, the photographer captures images of an object that is positioned very close to the lens. The resulting image shown on the camera sensor is anywhere from nearly as big as the actual object, or several times greater than life-sized!
Macro photography is used for small objects; because the macro lens can focus at a very close distance, more of the frame can be filled with your subject, capturing significantly more detail. For me, this “up-closeness” to nature inspires awe and wonder, leaving me marveling in the details of God’s amazing plan of creation, ever unfolding, minute by minute.
My self-care this year has involved a few things. I have loved taking brief walks with my camera and new lens. The last few weeks have not only been marked by quarantine, but the emerging of life as Spring arrives. I’ve been soaking up the rich photographic opportunities that present themselves during my favorite season. I don’t travel far–my backyard, a trail down the street, even my kitchen. If I just look, opportunities are there.
I quickly learned that up-close photography is different, and it takes practice. I produce far fewer workable images than I am normally accustomed to. Surprisingly, the challenge (for me), lies in a slow, steady approach. Photographer and subject must remain almost perfectly still; move a hair, and the lens will “grab focus” on an unintended part of your subject or lose focus altogether. The photographer must take a step back, take a breath, and refocus.
This practice requires my total attention and concentration. Thus, it is fairly meditative, an escape, and I can lose myself in it. It is so good for my soul, in ways I could not have anticipated. I am learning to produce images with my camera, but also learning to appreciate detail with my own eye, sans camera. Practicing with the lens has simply helped me see.
I love my photography, but the real sustenance of my self-care and soul lies foremost in my walks with Jesus, with the goal of increasing our closeness. I walked with Him on the road to Emmaus one morning in my prayer. Later that afternoon, I encounter him again, but this time adoring, as Fr. Viet processes the Eucharist through the Ascension parking lots in a beautiful act of humble service.
I have been graced with a spiritual mentor as well as a call to participate in a particularly beautiful Ignaitian scripture study. These measures of self-care are, in fact soul-care. I have no doubt that without time spent on these things, I would be completely lost in this storm of life that, right now, continues to throw up massive waves, surprisingly unrelenting, even during this already challenging time in history and in my personal life. I’d be focusing too much on the things I cannot control, leaving a shortage of attention for what I can change.
I do have to give them attention, these losses (at times shocking), and deaths of vision, big and small. I have increasing courage to get close and enter into them, because I am slowly learning how to invite Jesus into them with me, and focus on Him in the midst of it all. I’m training the lens of my heart to see and “grab focus” where it matters, in what never changes, in what grounds me.
The pure grace of the parallels between the unfolding of my faith journey and my new hobby during this time are not lost on me. And I falter so, so often. My learning curve is steep and fraught with obstacles. However, I am slowly learning, through intentional practice, what keeps the lens of my heart from getting “close enough” so that I may trust more fully.
These truths are being revealed to me in His time. Like the flowers and the “little things” I like to photograph, I am one of God’s projects, one of His creations, unfolding minute by minute. I am trying to rest and at the same time revel in the beauty of the journey as it unfolds, even in the midst of the storms.
And when I feel lost and can’t see, I take a deep breath, step back a little, and refocus.
Macro YOUR world:
Do you want to take Marco photos yourself? Here are a few tips from Ali:
- Your cell phone makes a decent macro lens, and there are even fun add-on filters you can purchase for your phone. If it feels like self-care to you, get up close and lose yourself in the beauty that surrounds us during this season of renewal!
- Listen to that call to come closer. There are a multitude of studies out there, a multitude of ways to connect to God’s word. You can lose yourself in those images of Jesus’s time on earth, really focus in. Don’t let fear of not having time keep you from coming closer in this way; what is grown during prayer time will amaze you and will far outweigh anything you move aside in your schedule!
- For more tips, check out this article: https://www.furiouscamera.com/11-tips-for-taking-stunning-macro-close-up-photos-with-your-mobile-phone