Sometimes You Can’t Get Closer

meadowhawk dragonfly eye

Sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes, it depends on other factors than yourself. Sometimes, you’re not good enough or strong enough or smart enough. Sometimes you don’t have the vision to see the truth. I am of course  thinking of the individual lenses of this meadowhawk dragonfly’s compound eye. When I photograph, the lens and camera will always bring certain limitations. The subject, in this case, a perfectly bizarre, skittish six-legged creature, presents its own obstacles. There are such things as microscopic elements, focusing rails, and focus stacking software which will theoretically solve the equipment end of it. The shyly smiling, inevitable catch is you’re probably going to have to find a dead meadowhawk. Or kill one. And while  I’m sure there is an art to killing, I have trouble finding a value in killing for art. But there is something to say for photographs of the lost.  I’ve certainly taken my shots of long gone bugs and critters. Still, the sense of loss in those frames is more than poetic. It is in the foreground: the loss of the challenge, of movement and of life (itself). It feels less in my viscera and often looks less in the colors. To continue, to move on, I submit to the immutability of my circumstances: sometimes I just can’t get the shot I want; sometimes I just want the things I can’t have. Now it’s time to lower the camera, and notice that, Hey, there’s a dragonfly, that we are here together, that we will be as close as we can be. Then the dragon will fly or I will walk, and some time later a photograph or note will remind us of how close we were. It may not be good enough, but it is.


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