I’m not sure what to think about this picture. It reminds me of a similar shot I took years ago with my 50mm lens and set of close-up filters, though the visual qualities (save for the amount of color) in this one far surpass the original: it’s much sharper with a more pleasing background falloff, which is what you get when you use an actual macro lens instead of faking it with filters. However, when you consider that the latter costs a mere fraction of the former, you can’t point out too many flaws and even after all this time I’m still surprised at how effective those little glass screw-on macro filters can really be. It’s a lesson in one of my favorite aspects of photography, that of growth and change. Rather than looking at the original shot and thinking about its faults, it’s much more useful to see a progression over time and evidence of learning and, ultimately, change, as a result.
Anyway, so back to this bolt on a fence post :)
I shot this when my brother and his family were visiting in mid March, and I was once again reminded of the joys of discovering photo opportunities right in your own back yard. Or, rather, your neighbor’s back yard. He has a macro lens also, and whenever he and I get together we make it a habit of just wandering around and seeing what pictures present themselves even when we least expect it, and the result of such searching is what you see here. We were walking and chatting and photographing while all our kids played frisbee in the field across the street, and he pointed out this rusty bold on a fence that I have probably seen a thousand times over the years but never considered as a picture subject. I brought my lens close, adjusted the aperture, shifted the angle that I was pointed at, and fired off a handful of clicks on the shutter while continuing to play around with my exposure values.
What I noticed right away was that the pictures I took at much smaller apertures were…well, they weren’t great. I have learned that when I take close-up pictures I generally need the aperture to be much smaller than traditional images, but shooting at f/11 seemed to be ideal here. It struck a good balance between subject sharpness and background blur, whereas f/22 made the chain links behind this bolt much clearer and, as a result, more distracting. I also intentionally composed the image such that there was a bit of foreground blur as well, which is something I have learned I quite enjoy including in macro shots. In the end this won’t go down as one of my top-ten favorites or anything, but it was a fun learning experience and helped me to see some progression since getting those screw-on filters years ago. And it’s that sense of growth and change which makes all the difference.