In the Eisenhower-era movie The Incredible Shrinking Man, the hero begins shrinking after accidental exposure to radiation and insectiside. In the end, always growing tinier, after numerous battles with house cats, spiders, and successively smaller creatures, the hero keeps his dignity and soliloquizes, “So close – the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept.”
With similar spirit and gusto, it amazes me how easily photography ranges from the cosmos of stars in their journey to the universe of the macrocosm.
When I looked at the scene of water drops in my garden on a sunny morning, I realized that to capture the sense of the macrocosm as a universe I needed to get down in the middle of the scene:
To accomplish the feeling of being right in the middle of the “water drop forest”, I knew the camera couldn’t be positioned to look down. There had to be a sense of being right in the middle of the universe of freesia and water drops. So I used a special tripod modified for close-to-the-ground macros, the Low-Boy from Kirk Enterprises. By the way, this tripod is also great for taking photos of small kids, it gets you at exactly their height.
Besides being low in height, I needed to be close-in the to drops and flower stems without disturbing them. To accomplish this, I used my 200mm Nikon macro telephoto lens. One of the neat features of this lens is a tripod collar, making the switch from horizontal to vertical very easy. In 35mm equivalency terms, on a Nikon dSLR, this would be a 300mm lens, bringing you approximately six times closer than optically “normal”.
I stopped the lens down to f/40 for maximum depth-of-field. One of the nice surprises was the star effect on the water drop on the left (a natural effect, not added in Photoshop), reminding me that the universe of the macrocosm has stars too.