I have always been fascinated by tiny things. I love miniatures that work, like tiny flashlights or little tools that are capable of much more than one would expect. I know exactly when that fascination came about (related to a book I much enjoyed as a small boy), and even in the knowing it has never waned. Given a choice, I’ll go for small and compact.
One of the things I love about photography is the little surprises. I’m always taking pictures that surprise me in little ways. Often, even when I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about a shot, or looking at something from different angles, I’ll look at the image onscreen and see something I hadn’t noticed — a highlight, a reflection, a little detail in the background. These are the little things that keep me fascinated.
Another of my photographic fascinations is the tiny, unnoticed things around us. I love photographing the tiny flowers that others pass without noticing, the bugs that others don’t see. Often I get one of the surprises I mentioned in unseen insects. I took the above picture of a sunflower, backlighted by the sun (another favorite thing of mine) on a flying trip through the Nebraska Sand Hills last summer. Jumped out of the Explorer, snapped the shot, and promptly forgot about it. Back home in Florida, when I looked closely while editing, I discovered not one, but four little surprises. Did you see them when you first looked at it?
When I was about five years old, my dad built me a tree house in a small live oak tree just south of our house on the farm. It consisted of a well-reinforced platform about seven feet off the ground, with 2x4s nailed to the tree trunk to provide a ladder for access. A railing on one side provided a backrest.
As simple as it was, that structure became the center of my life. I spent untold hours in it, reading comic books (we subscribed to them for about $2.50 a year, and they came in the mail), playing solitary pretend games, quietly watching the birds that would come to the tree if a small boy was able to stay still long enough, and generally hanging out while enjoying the
breeze that seemed to be present even on the hottest low-country days. The platform was my place, in my tree – inviolate – respected by the adults as my private place. Continue reading →