Lens-Artists Challenge #190 – Close and Closer

Israel, Jaffa, cobblestone
Jaffa, Tel Aviv, Israel

“A photographer’s eye is perpetually evaluating.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

This week Patti encourages us to get closer to our subjects – using our “foot-zoom” as well as longer lenses or a judicious crop. As photographers, we tend to look at the world a bit differently. We focus on light, color, detail, and the little gifts that we often find within the big picture. For example, in the image above visitors will appreciate the beauty of the scene, some the texture of the ancient stones or perhaps the colorful flowers and art. But when most look on the right side of the image, they may not notice this:

doors, gate, blue, ancient, Jaffa
Inside the Gates

“To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It’s a way of life.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

As photographers we see details such as that shown in the image above and wonder how many hands have touched those doors…when were the gates added and why…were they added to keep people out or people in…are there people living there now….who crafted the gate and chose the beautiful color…..you know what I’m talking about, right?

sand, Wadi Rum, Jordan
Native Jordanians, Wadi Rum, Jordan

“I try to capture something from my subjects that’s real. It’s the eyes that tell that.”

Corinne Day

In Jordan we visited Petra and Wadi Rum among other places. I was honestly a bit intimidated by how “foreign” it felt. I’m very shy about approaching strangers but I knew the image above really didn’t tell the story. I stepped outside of my usual self and approached the two men above to see if I could include them in an image. Here’s what happened:

People are People Everywhere

“Every picture tells a story, don’t it?”

Rod Stewart

I was reminded that day that people are people everywhere and wearing a keffiyeh doesn’t make them any different or scarier. I also learned that as we are often told, most people, when asked to allow a photograph, will happily oblige. Finally, I was reminded that almost always, coming in closer will result in a stronger image.

deer, fawn, nature
Nature’s Child

“The photographer is one who uses his/her eye as first camera and takes the camera to use, secondly.”

Moses Oliver

For nature photographers, it can be challenging to zero in on our subjects. A fawn simply will not allow us to get any closer than I was in the image above. It can help to start shooting from a distance, and to continue shooting while slowly walking closer and closer. As such, although this little one allowed me to get relatively close, the final option is to crop the image to get closer still, as I did for the image below.

fawn, ears, spots
My What Big Ears You Have!

“Although technology has made everything easier, good images still depend on the creative eye.”

Lakshman Iyer

Shown below, one final example of the effect of closing in on a subject. A fresh field of daisies is hard to resist. My three images below show the daisies as part of the big picture, then close in, and finally creatively cropped.

daisies, nature
Field of Daisies
Daisy, flower, yellow
Up Close
Creatively Cropped

“Photography is the only “language” understood in all parts of the world, and bridging all nations and cultures…We become the eye-witnesses of the humanity and inhumanity of mankind.”

Helmut Gernsheim

On a more serious note, earlier this week there was a news story about photographers covering the war in Ukraine. It featured a number of them along with several of their heartbreaking images, and spoke to the importance and difficulty of their work. Each of them discussed the emotional toll of standing side-by-side, braving danger, along with the people whose lives are in ruin. They are indeed the “eye-witnesses of the humanity and inhumanity of mankind.” Think about it….how much would we know or feel if not for them?

Thanks to Patti for such an interesting challenge – be sure to link your responses to her original here, and to use the Lens-Artists Tag to help us find you. Thanks also to those of you who responded to last week’s Odds and Ends challenge. It was such fun seeing the images that have been hiding in your archives enjoying their moment in the sun! Ann-Christine will lead us next week on her Leya post so be sure to visit her next Saturday at noon Eastern Time. Until then, please stay safe and be kind.

Interested in joining the Lens-Artists Challenge? For more information, click here.


83 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #190 – Close and Closer

  1. Tina, interesting subjects you chose for this topic! Beautiful courtyard with plants and pictures along the wall. And who would think a lovely blue doorway could add so much to its overall charm? A happy looking picture of the Jordanians, great shot of the fawn and of course your daisy pictures. It is impossible to not think about Ukraine and all the suffering their people have to endure. They are very brave and I pray this will end soon in their favor.

  2. Hi Tina
    Really liked the daisies the most! The way you led is to the third image (had an Anne geddes vibe – or reminded me of someone!
    But I like how it was to the side and so clear like that’
    And prayers for the photographers and media crew over in Ukraine – great way to end the post

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  4. You really managed to show us the point here, Tina – in magnificent images of course! Love the daisies and the little fawn, and that you mentioned Ukraine. Opposites, really. I am afraid I suffer along with the Ukrainians, every minute, every day. It’s good to have the challenges, a distraction and a joy.

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  6. Beautiful images Tina, I especially love the way you zoomed in on the gorgeous daisies 💛

  7. Lovely macro shots; flowers are a great subject for this challenge. Your photos of the bedouins are a wonderful response to the challenge: we all react so differently when a photographer comes close.

  8. I heard David! How many conversations will we have about the wrongs of this war before it ends, Tina? It feels like banging your head against a brick wall. But I appreciate your beautiful distractions. I love the first two images, and the fawn and dog-eyed daisies. I’d seldom get good close ups without a bit of cropping.

    • Thanks Jo – yes, David has spent time in battle so he knows whereof he speaks. It’s quite simply a tragedy with no end in sight. Distractions are all we have at the moment, other than financial or other contributions for the refugees. Yet it’s hard to turn away from it, isn’t it?

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  10. You’ve really hit the nail on the head with this response! Your photos make the point perfectly and your text expresses so well the benefits of getting closer to our subjects. I especially liked your photo of the men at Wadi Rum and your accompanying description of how you summoned up the courage to ask them for a photo, with a great reward! The photos in Jaffa are lovely too but my favourites are the three daisy shots, especially the first and the last 😀

    • Thanks so much Frank. It’s a truly beautiful spot – you can literally feel the spirit of the centuries of people who were there before you. Glad you enjoyed these my friend!

  11. Strictly commenting on your serious note, I don’t know if seeing those kind of photos, or their impact, matter a whole bunch. The round-up of Jews by the Nazis is well-documented through photography. But, the thought was surely they would not engage in a wholesale slaughter of a people. Bluntly, FDR didn’t believe the intelligence reports. It’s in the officials notes of those briefings. Neither did Churchill believe. Stalin, he was a stone-cold killer and didn’t care. His forces watched as the German forces swept through Kiev, killing Jews, Ukrainians and anyone else. When the Russians swept through Kiev in their drive to Berlin, they did their share of killing Jews and Ukrainians. A week ago, it was the photo of a woman and her children, and a church aide laying dead in the street after an indiscriminate mortar round fired by the Russians struck near them. War is dirty, it’s brutal, it’s savage. Many times, we, US forces, have held our fire whenever civilian noncombatants were caught in the crossfire. We’ve taken casualties as a result. There are images of that too. A bloodbath is unfolding in Ukraine, and we get to see it up close and in real time. At some point breaking hearts will have to end. Either we confront or we let the bloodbath continue. I yield the soapbox. Thank you, Tina. 🙂

  12. Thank you for these – as ever, telling images – and for reminding us of the debt we owe to photographers there who bring the human story of people just like us to the tragedy that is Ukraine.

  13. Excellent image selection for this theme, Tina. I love the first one, the colors and texture… are beautifully captured. Ooh, deer.
    Those jouralists take risk to bring the facts to the world.; “They are indeed the “eye-witnesses of the humanity and inhumanity of mankind.”.

    • Thanks Amy – that little area of Jaffa is truly beautiful. I spent quite a bit of time there enjoying the colors and textures. And yes, agree wholeheartedly with your comment on the journalists.

  14. If ever photos conveyed a message to the world, the photos from Ukraine are it. Heartbreaking, all. The photo of the three men is so much fun–they look like kids acting up for the photo. That is the best, Tina!

    • Thanks Lois, yes that hamming it up for my lens really surprised me and was a valuable lesson as well. Agree wholeheartedly about the Ukraine photos – heartbreaking . The journalists covering the war have been incredible.

  15. As usual, stunning either near or far, Tina. The image of the men laughing is precious and you are so right about how people are just people no matter where we live. And a touching testament to photojournalists covering the war. My heart breaks for Ukraine.

  16. As a non-photographer (is there such a word???) I am always impressed by your photos but this challenge in particular emphasizes how different the eye sees something up close. Of course your descriptions add so much to the experience. Pray every day for those in Ukraine and for the safety of the reporters and photographers.

    • LOL, if there wasn’t such a word, there is now GF. Many thanks for the lovely comment, much appreciated. I saw this morning that an American journalist had been killed in Ukraine. Just added to the depth of sadness over the entire situation.

  17. This post really touched me, Tina. You have an incredible talent, not just for your wonderful photos, but for your depth and insight in making statements and observations – looking more closely is amazing! Loved the images…heart is breaking for all in Ukraine.

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