Planets and their Variation

View complete series of focus-stacked Little Planets.

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.

This animated gif shows the stacked focus effect in a more visual way

close view

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 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 that I’m interested in getting even closer and using the detail in the pixels to repeat this process for a future project.

Planet 1
Planet 1
Planet 2
Planet 2
Planet 10
Planet 10
Planet 17
Planet 17

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.

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!

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