After taking some time off from all the reading I’ve been doing I’ve begun (slowly) re-approaching my underlying thesis of translating philosophical principles into visual language. I’m starting with more macro photography, for now, as I find the break of normality it offers refreshing. I became invested in the patterns and variety of marbles initially when I looked at planets taken by Nasa. Since taking pictures of planets and showing their variety isn’t practical, or even possible right now, marbles became something I looked into.
I started with a collection of 36 unique marbles and photographed them using my Laowa 60mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro Lens for Canon EF lens so I could fill nearly the entire frame. This lens I picked up is incredible because it can magnify objects to twice their size. To illuminate the marbles I cast a certain reflected light pattern using my Meike® MK-14EXT Macro TTL ring flash for Canon and the reflective makeshift stand. The most challenging thing with photographing these round marbles in macro is getting it all into focus. Even though I was shooting in f/16 I only managed to get a small fraction of the marble in focus. The solution to this is to stack the images together from the closest point to the edges of the marble.
Something I learned from my previous experiment with flowers and this image-stacking technique was the way I could “fill in” the gaps of focus using slow movement in a film. This is merely a bonus accidental part of the series I want to include in case I need to use them for an illustration down the road. The example on the left (or top) is of a marble from the same point of view my image series will appear as. The example on the right, however, shows an enlarged view that borrows from the added pixels of shooting on a 20MP camera (5472x3648px) and zooming into the 1080p range (1920x1080px). The reason I mention all of this is because I’m interested in getting even closer and using the detail in the pixels to repeat this process for a future project.
I may be going out on a limb here but I find these marbles, which reference planets, and the stacking focus in-line with the human lifespan and the fact that change within us is a slow and building process. This will be revisited.
After stack-focusing all 36 marbles I made sure to carefully align and crop any distracting elements I could find, which happened to be the background. Now that this was simplified I used that shape of the macro ring to my advantage and used it as the referencing point as each marble faded into the previous, for the effect of “the dot” (once again) but this time with emphasis on variety and pattern.
Above are four examples of this complete series.
Our universe is so big using the biggest word to describe it doesn’t even come close. It’s fun, and a little scary, to think about how many other planets may be out there we just don’t know about. The marbles, then, represent the abstract form of a potential planetary structure. Because this series is also abstract, they also reference the dot, which is another way of saying they stand for one facet of an infinite source, i.e. the absolute.
To take this series to the next level is the idea of time. Below is a video of these marbles shifting, or evolving into one-another. In the same way the stacked focus movement illustrates our personality and the slow change that happens in our lives, the morphing video illustrates more causal factors, like events and other people that become parts of us. It’s the shapeshifting aspects of this I find fascinating, because it illustrates another level of change, seen at a more rapid pace… but from the perspective of time outside of our sense of time. This version will be revised so there will be none of the strangeness of the shape being lost.
It’s at the most basic level I’m doing this because I find this look of macro photography interesting to look at. At another level, however, these act as a reference point to all the randomness and variety we have in nature all around us, and how everything is everything. More to come!